According to a recent article published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, “New Developments in the Assessment of COPD: Early Diagnosis Is Key,” the majority of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are not aware of their condition and, as a result, do not receive the treatment they need to aggressively target the disease in its early stages.
The article, which reviewed a short list of recent findings on the treatment and diagnosis of COPD, found that roughly half of all patients who have COPD are undiagnosed and, as a result, are unaware of their condition. This in turn results in significant delays in treatment, including aggressive smoking-cessation intervention, which is likely to jeopardize future health.
“Traditional opinion has described COPD as a progressive disease that responds poorly to treatment, with the lone intervention capable of altering the course of disease progression being smoking cessation,” wrote study authors Nicholas G. Csikesz and Eric J. Gartman. “However, recent studies have called these axioms into question. The period of most rapid decline in lung function may occur much earlier than previously thought, and it is during this period that aggressive testing strategies, smoking-cessation efforts and the initiation of treatments may be beneficial.”
As a result, novel methods of diagnostic testing, community health programs and primary-care provider recommendations hold promise to expand the recognition of COPD in its incipient stages.
“Diagnosing patients early on in their course may offer the best chance at mitigating the substantial morbidity and mortality associated with COPD,” wrote Csikesz and Gartman. “Early diagnosis is feasible and cost-effective in the primary-care setting, and efforts to expand diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities should be universally supported.”