Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can mean dealing with the sometimes debilitating symptoms that interrupt everyday life. A new survey by the COPD Foundation urges patients to educate themselves to help prevent exacerbations, which can become increasingly uncomfortable if not managed correctly.
The first portion of the two-part national survey found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of participants did not know much exacerbations, commonly known as flare-ups, while 16% were unaware of what an exacerbation even was. Of those that did know what a flare-up was, 60% reported that they did not have an action plan for dealing with them.
These numbers are troublesome as they reflect low patient awareness and readiness which can hinder better health and lung functionality.
The second part of the study focused on the physicians treating COPD patients. Nearly all (98%) stated that they regularly discuss exacerbations and establish action plans with their patients.
Scott Cerreta of the COPD Foundation noted that “developing an action plan with instructions to help patients – and their caregivers – identify warning signs and what steps to take if an exacerbation should occur is a critical part of managing COPD.”
These action plans must start with effective communications between physician and patient. The physician must be willing to diagnose early and provide the patient with clear and direct instructions. The patient should be willing to adhere to the appropriate strategies recommended by their physician or caregiver in order to reduce the chances of exacerbation.
The survey concluded with a just 12% of participants revealing that they felt their condition were “completely controlled.” This led researchers to assert that physicians need to “develop an individualized approach that works best for each patient” in order to increase patient awareness.