COPD has substantial physical and psychosocial impact on younger patients, survey reveals

Results of a global survey of 1,375 adults aged at least 45 years old and living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 11 countries have been published in COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Findings indicate that COPD has a substantial physical and psychosocial impact on patients, particularly those aged 45–54 years old. Compared with older patients (≥65 years old), this group more frequently reported that their COPD has a higher impact on their wellbeing and daily activities, and reported making more frequent adjustments to their activity due to their symptoms.1 Survey results indicate that there are significant quality of life and educational unmet needs, particularly amongst younger people living with COPD.

This is one of the few surveys that looks at the impact of COPD in different age groups. As healthcare professionals, we have to realize that the same disease has a different impact in younger and older patients, and that the perceived impact has to be addressed to tailor and optimize treatment to suit each patient.”

Professor Dr Dekhuijzen, Pulmonologist, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

When looking specifically at the outcomes reported by younger patients (45–54 years old) versus older patients (≥65 years old):

  • Younger patients more frequently reported that their COPD ‘extremely’ or ‘very much’ impacts their ability to carry out tasks outside the home (37% vs 22%) and travel long distances (38% vs 18%),1 and they were more than twice as likely to need to plan their day around periods of breathlessness and/or coughing (41% vs 19%)
  • A significantly higher proportion of patients aged 45–54 years old reported “poor” or “very poor” wellbeing (35% vs 28%; P<0.05), and reported feeling “stressed” and “overwhelmed” 1.7 and 2.2 times more frequently (P<0.05), respectively
  • Reliance on physicians was more significant amongst younger patients, who were more than three times more likely to want information to aid them to better manage using their inhaler device (18% vs 58% did not want this type of information)

One possible explanation as to why the perceived burden differs strongly is that younger patients are usually more active in terms of their work and social life, and so have differing expectations about what life with COPD will be. Although more research is needed to better understand why these age differences exist, these findings show we need to make patients more aware of how they can positively impact their disease progression through things like speaking to clinicians about optimal treatment aimed at keeping them active in their daily lives.”

Nicole Hass, Representative from the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA)

Findings reinforce the need for HCPs and COPD patients, particularly younger ones, to work towards optimal treatment management and therapy aimed at improving symptoms and lessening the impact of the disease on patients’ quality of life. According to Dr. Paola Casarosa, Head of Global Therapeutic Areas at Boehringer Ingelheim, “Overall, the results of this survey align with our ongoing efforts as an organisation, highlighting the importance of optimising treatment and helping patients to maintain active lives.”

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