With 8 lakh annual deaths, there is an urgent need to prioritize care for COPD patients in India

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As we observe World COPD Day, here are some of the important and alarming facts about COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). India is the ‘COPD Capital of the World’; our country has the highest number of COPD cases in the world COPD prevalence among the population aged 30 years and above in India is 7% India ranks second in the world in COPD deaths COPD causes more deaths than AIDS, TB, Malaria, Diabetes all put together

Despite these disturbing facts, the public awareness on COPD is poor, which can result in a delay in COPD diagnosis. Further, delayed diagnosis and poor/suboptimal COPD management can result in flare -up of the disease (COPD exacerbation or LUNG ATTACK). In a lung attack, symptoms of COPD such as breathlessness and cough increase significantly. This is often accompanied by feeling tired and sometimes swelling of the ankles. Lung attacks can have serious consequences. They can lead to hospitalization, admission to Intensive care and can be fatal. They can cause accelerated decline in an already compromised lung function.

Dr. MS Gopala Krishna, Interventional Pulmonologist, Aayush Hospital, Vijayawada said, “Persistent exposure to the risk factors and repeated respiratory infections can aggravate the underlying COPD leading to a lung attack. The lack of awareness on COPD contributes significantly in preventing people from seeking help and reaching out to their doctors. Identifying the signs and symptoms of COPD and lung attack and getting timely help from a physician is the best way to prevent further worsening of disease progression. If smokers and other people with risk factors understand that they can get a LUNG ATTACK which requires urgent medical attention they will seek help early. Timely diagnosis of the disease is important which can be done by regularly checking lung function in patients who are symptomatic and at risk of COPD”.

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