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World COPD Day 2020: Expert Tells Why COPD Patients Are More Impacted By COVID-19 Pandemic

World COPD Day 2020: Respiratory diseases like COPD may only increase even post the pandemic, as air pollution and unhealthy lifestyle habits (like smoking) are on the rise. Here's what you need to know.

World COPD Day 2020: Expert Tells Why COPD Patients Are More Impacted By COVID-19 Pandemic

World COPD Day: The pandemic has affected COPD patients in myriad aspects of their lives

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. People with COPD are more vulnerable to diseases
  2. A COPD patient suffers from dilatation of lower airways of the lungs
  3. It makes breathing more difficult

World COPD Day 2020: November 18 is observed as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day across the world. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has impacted several major and small countries across the world. COPD is a serious progressive lung disease that affects over 15 - 20% of the global population aged over 50 years. As per the World Health Organisation, there are over 65 million people that are living with moderate to severe COPD in the world. As of now, COVID - 19 has affected over 47 million people and has caused over 1.2 million deaths globally. Given the severe impact that COVID - 19 can have on lungs, it is natural for COPD patients to be more impacted by the pandemic.

World COPD Day: Know the risks that COVID-19 pandemic poses to people with COPD


A COPD patient suffers from dilatation of lower airways of the lungs that make breathing more and more difficult. Daily activities, such as walking up a short flight of stairs or carrying a suitcase, and even daily routine activities can become very difficult as the condition gradually worsens. As the disease progresses, some patients may have greater difficulty eliminating carbon dioxide.

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Today, with the continuing impact of COVID-19 and significant deterioration air quality resulting from dipping temperatures and rising pollution, patients with COPD are more vulnerable for acute exacerbations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have also recognized that COPD patients are a high-risk group and are more likely to have poor outcomes as result of the pandemic.

A recent study conducted by the Radiology Department at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital found that years of exposure to bad air has caused structural changes to lungs of Delhi-NCR residents, making them more susceptible to respiratory illnesses and COVID-19. Also, there is increasing evidence that COPD can be a risk factor for more severe COVID-19 cases. An analysis of comorbidities in 1590 COVID-19 patients across China found that over 62.5 % severe cases had a history of COPD and 25% of those who died were COPD patients.

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There is increasing evidence that COPD can be a risk factor for more severe COVID-19 cases
Photo Credit: iStock

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Further to it, in a systematic analysis published in PLOS ONE journal, it was found that COVID-19 patients requiring ICU admission with co-existing COPD had a 63% risk of severe disease and a 60% risk of mortality in comparison to critically ill patients without COPD, who had only a 33.4% risk of severe disease and 55% risk of mortality respectively.

Taking cognizance of the above data, currently Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), which is an international body for COPD management, GOLD issued a statement that 'it recognises that people with COPD are amongst the worst affected by COVID-19'.

The pandemic has affected COPD patients in myriad aspects of their lives. Face-to-face clinic visits have been curtailed because of it, as have pulmonary rehabilitation sessions. Patients who may have normally presented to the hospital during an exacerbation might choose to stay home for fear of exposure, resulting in delayed care.

Also read: COVID-19: 3 Myths About Coronavirus You Must Stop Believing

Respiratory diseases like COPD may only increase even post the pandemic, as air pollution and unhealthy lifestyle habits (like smoking) are on the rise. Additionally, more than 90% of COPD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, where effective strategies for prevention and control are not always implemented or accessible. In such a scenario, it is very important for COPD patients in India to have greater awareness and resort to therapies that helps reduce the impact of the symptoms of COPD. This may yield a longer, healthier life for them.


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(Dr Sibasish Dey, Head, Medical Affairs, Asia and Latin America, ResMed)

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