On World COPD Day (19 November 2014), the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is mobilizing its members to raise awareness of the disease and help prevent the risk factors that cause it.
210 million people have COPD worldwide, causing the death of at least 2.9 million people each year. It is the sixth major cause of death and disability in low- and middle-income countries and is projected to be the third most common cause of death by 2020.
World COPD Day, which is observed in November each year, is an opportunity to highlight the impact of COPD to governments, politicians, funding agencies, clinicians, public health personnel and also the general public.
The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is dedicated to raising awareness of the disease and on World COPD Day, the alliance hopes to highlight some of key risk factors, diagnosis, and essential management components of the disease.
Risk factors for COPD
Risk factors for COPD other than smoking tobacco are being increasingly recognized. These include environmental exposures, such as occupational exposures to dusts and fumes, and indoor biomass fuel burning in many developing countries.
Epidemiological studies indicate that the most common risk factors for COPD are age, smoking, indoor exposure to coal and workplace exposure to dust.
Spirometry is essential for COPD diagnosis
One possible explanation of the inaccurate diagnostic labelling of COPD is the underutilization of spirometry for COPD diagnosis. Only 20% of individuals surveyed in a population-based study had undergone spirometry sometime in their life. Spirometry training programs, as well as the availability of spirometers in the primary care setting, are still scarce.
Treatment and prevention of COPD
Patients should have access to comprehensive treatment including education for patients and family, smoking cessation programs, medication, pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy as prescribed.
Prevention of smoking and exposure to pollutants, such as coal and dust, are the interventions most likely to succeed against COPD worldwide.
ATS President Tom Ferkol, MD said: "COPD is a global killer. It is a major cause of death and disability in low- and middle-income countries and is projected to be the third-leading cause of death by 2020. We have joined together with other members of the Forum to highlight the impact of COPD to the public and policymakers. Understanding the risk factors for COPD, raising awareness of the importance of spirometry, and increasing access to available treatments are just some of the ways we can tackle COPD and improve the outlook for future generations."
Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS)