Preventing flare-up incidence in people with COPD is critical to survival

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Boehringer Ingelheim releases breakthrough findings on COPD in new study published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

In the KSA, the prevalence of COPD in the general population of Saudi Arabia is 2.4%. However, the disease is largely underdiagnosed, and hence undertreated until it is moderately advanced due to the lack of standardized diagnosis methods.

COPD represents a major health concern for developing countries and is ranked as the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. It is expected to become the third leading cause by the year 2030.

People with COPD are likely to experience episodes called exacerbations, during which their symptoms become worse than usual day-to-day variation, and persist for at least several days.

Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, has released data from its landmark 52-week DYNAGITO® trial, involving more than 7,800 people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Among people with COPD, a lowered rate of moderate-to-severe exacerbations or flare-ups was discovered after the trial. The findings support international Global Initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease’s (GOLD) 2018 strategy recommendations, that shed light on the central role treatments play in the management of COPD and help achieve key treatment goals that include reduced symptoms and minimizing the future risk of exacerbations. This study has also been published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

COPD prevalence is increasing in Saudi Arabia due to increasing prevalence of tobacco smoking among men and women. The prevalence of COPD in the Kingdom is 2.4%. This prevalence rate is similar to that reported from many parts of the world. In an earlier study from Jeddah, among 810 hospitalized patients with respiratory disorders, COPD was found to be the second leading cause of hospitalization (17.2%). Men (66.9%) were twice as affected as women (33.1%), and the age group most commonly involved was 46-65 years.

COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus production and wheezing. It’s caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from smoking cigarettes. People with COPD are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and a variety of other conditions.

Symptoms of COPD often don’t appear until significant lung damage has occurred, and they usually worsen over time, particularly if smoking exposure continues. These may include shortness of breath, chest tightness, excess mucus in the lungs, frequent respiratory infections, as well as lack of energy.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the prevalence of COPD has been estimated at around 4 per cent of adults aged over 40 years in the general population.

Dr. Majdy Idrees, Consultant Pulmonologist at Prince Sultan Military Academy in Riyadh said, “There is no clear information around the prevalence of COPD in Saudi Arabia. The need for data around the disease and its prevalence is of paramount importance. Increasing age and smoking are the main risk factors for COPD. Early diagnosis is critical to managing the progression of COPD and improving chances of survival. Reduced flare-ups can positively impact disease progression and mortality. A flare-up can lead to a 25 per cent loss in lung function often causing COPD to progress even faster.”

Dr. Idrees also added, “Flare-ups are usually caused by infection in the lungs or airways and inhaling heavy air pollution. Such exacerbations in COPD can be prevented by smoking cessation, timely vaccination against flu and pneumonia, increased physical activity, adherence to prescribed medications for COPD, regular contact with doctors, adequate sleep, and staying hydrated.”

Dr. Mohamed Meshref, Boehringer Ingelheim’s Medical Director, META said, “At Boehringer Ingelheim, we are actively working to study and develop a close understanding of chronic respiratory diseases that are increasing in frequency, morbidity, and mortality. With their economic and social impact increasing rapidly, early intervention could result in significant reductions in cost and mortality. Largely preventable – it is important to work closely with the primary care service and government bodies to ensure better health outcomes for the population in the region that continues to have a high profile of cardiovascular and respiratory risk factors.”

One in three people hospitalised may have to be readmitted after a flare-up within eight weeks. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), risk factors that contribute to developing COPD, which include tobacco smoking, indoor and outdoor air pollution as well as being exposed to occupational dusts and chemicals. The disease represents a major health concern for developing countries and is ranked as the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, and is expected to become the third leading cause by the year 2030.

For over 90 years, Boehringer Ingelheim has emerged as a leader in managing respiratory illnesses, having launched several treatments in a range of conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, IPF and lung cancer. The company focuses on improving the quality of life of patients suffering from debilitating respiratory diseases and enabling them to maintain a more independent life.


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