How many people does Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease COPD affect and what impact does it have on their lives?
It’s a difficult number to estimate but it’s probably between four and six percent of the world’s population. So, it’s a lot of people and certainly we know that in 2000, we had about 43 million people dying of COPD.
It’s heading towards becoming the third commonest cause of death in the developed world. In fact, in some countries it already is, like the United States.
What treatments are currently available for COPD?
The first thing is that we can’t cure COPD. The problem we have with COPD is that the process itself is not treatable, certainly not once it gets to the extent that it’s advanced.
What we do know is that if we catch people very early on when they have a lot of acute inflammation, it may be that if they stop smoking at that point, they actually do see improvements.
But otherwise, smoking cessation is about slowing down the deterioration to a level that would occur if someone was not a smoker. That’s one treatment, smoking cessation.
The second is to maintain fitness and exercise, that’s very important throughout.