Thousands of Australians with the persistent lung disease COPD may be missing out of some of the most effective non-drug remedies that are available to help people with the incapacitating condition, a new report warns.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affects about one particular in 13 people aged forty and over, and is the fifth leading cause of death in this country. The condition, most commonly caused by smoking, can be degenerative in nature but a number of treatments are available to help make life a lot more bearable for sufferers.
The problem, according to a new paper by the Australian Centre for Asthma Monitoring (ACAM), published today, is that many people with COPD may be missing out on 2 of the most effective non-drug treatments for that condition.
Pulmonary rehabilitation, a program of exercise, education plus psychosocial support, has been proven to help keep patients out of hospital and enhance their quality of life. Long-term oxygen therapy, an at-home treatment for people with persistently reduced levels of oxygen in their blood, has been shown to prolong survival.
Professor Guy Marks, one of the report’s authors and Head, Respiratory & Environmental Epidemiology at the Woolcock Start of Medical Research, says each are well established as safe and effective treatments for patients with COPD.
“Here you have two of the very effective interventions recommended in nationwide and international clinical guidelines, inch Prof Marks says. “Sadly, it seems that many people may not be using them and, therefore , are missing out on opportunities for enhanced health and wellbeing in daily life. ”
Compounding the issue, there are simply no data available to show the degree of the shortfall, where the gaps are usually and why they exist, he says.
The paper, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), makes a case meant for national monitoring of these non-drug treatments to paint a clearer image of treatment practice for people with COPD.
“Currently it’s impossible to understand if it’s a problem with availability of the treatments or whether it’s a case of patients not knowing about them or not being able to access them for some other reason, inch Prof Marks says. “Having details about the availability and use of these essential interventions would give us an opportunity to improve treatment, and ultimately the health, of thousands of Australians with this disease. inch
COPD killed almost 5900 Australians in 2011. It is a intensifying disease. Sufferers experience increasingly severe breathlessness and limitation in their ability to do simple daily tasks. An earlier report estimated the direct health expenditure attributed to COPD was $929 million in the 2008–09 financial year. Smoking is the primary cause but other causes include air pollution plus occupational exposure to dusts and smells. A variety of drug and non-drug treatments are recommended to improve quality of life.
(Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)