August 4, 2011

New Recommendations for COPD

(Ivanhoe Newswire)--Physician organizations are announcing new recommendations to consider when diagnosing and treating COPD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease that makes it challenging to breathe.

Smoking is the leading cause however some people who smoke never develop COPD. Other risk factors to be aware of are exposure to certain gases or fumes, heavy amounts of second hand smoke or pollution, and frequent use of cooking fire without adequate ventilation. Symptoms of this disease include coughing, fatigue, respiratory infections, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Symptoms tend to develop very slowly for those with COPD and therefore some people are not aware they are sick. 

A clinical practice guideline on diagnosing and treating stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is recently being published. The guidelines represent more than 170,000 physician's insights from around the world from the American College of Physicians, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, and the European Respiratory Society. Lead author of the study, Amir Qaseem, M.D., FACP, PhD, and director of clinical policy at the American College of Physicians was quoted stating, "The clinical practice guideline aims to help clinicians to diagnose and manage stable COPD, prevent and treat exacerbations, reduce hospitalizations and deaths, and improve the quality of life of patients with COPD."

The clinical practice guidelines include several recommendations such as spirometry should diagnose airflow obstruction in patients with respiratory symptoms and should not be used to screen for airflow obstruction in individuals not displaying these symptoms. Spirometry is a common test used to diagnose COPD and measures how much air can be inhaled and exhaled. For COPD patients experiencing respiratory symptoms and FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second) between 60 and 80 percent predicted to be treated with inhaled bronchodilators. Clinicians prescribe monotherapy, the use of a single drug for treatment, using long-acting inhaled anticholinergics or long-acting inhaled beta agonists for symptomatic patients with COPD and FEV1 less than 60 percent predicted.

SOURCES: Annals of Internal Medicine, August 4, 2011