Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) It has a high underdiagnosis rate and the Argentine Association of Respiratory Medicine (AAMR) estimates that 70% of people suffering from it in the country are unaware of it, while Juan José Soler Catalunya, a Spanish pulmonologist, indicated that the best treatment to prevent this – “quit smoking”.

The AAMR also warned that, according to the latest available data, about 2.3 million people in Argentina may be suffering from COPD.

They warn that 7 out of 10 people with COPD in Argentina are not diagnosed.

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According to the Epocar ​​study, conducted in six conglomerates of the country, only 22% of those diagnosed in said study admitted to having COPD, indicating that underdiagnosis is over 70%, a phenomenon that replicates worldwide. they explained..

In that sense, they stated that 35% of those surveyed were current smokers, 35.3% were ex-smokers, and 29.7% had never smoked, adding that there was a significant association between smoking and COPD.

Juan José Soler Catalunya, Head of Pulmonology at the Arnau de Vilanova Hospital in Valencia, Spain, author of over 140 publications and Director of the Valencian Community Health Plan Epoc, visited the country as part of the 100 Years of Breathing with GSK program in the province of Córdoba.

This doctor told healthcare professionals about his COPD research and the development of the “Do” program in Spain, which aims to optimize the early diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

“Cepd is a disease that has been classically described in the adult population. Most studies talk about a population over 40 years old, that is, children or adolescents do not suffer from COPD, ”said the Spanish pulmonologist.

Soler Catalunya recalled that this phenomenon occurs as a result of inhaling tobacco smoke from smoking, which accounts for 80% to 85% of cases.

What is COPD

The science

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes airflow obstruction from the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, mucus (sputum) production, and wheezing.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COPD is the world’s third leading cause of death and the seventh leading cause of ill health (measured by disability-adjusted life years).

This develops because one of the big problems is the late diagnosis of the disease and the high level of underdiagnosis.

The main risk factor is smoking, and the median age in all studies is about 60 years.

“This is a disease that is somehow related to aging, but not so much with biological or chronological aging, but with the biological aging of the lungs. With age, the likelihood of getting this disease increases, ”the Spanish doctor deepened.

Symptoms of COPD

Respiratory symptoms are chronic and typically present with a feeling of shortness of breath (shortness of breath), coughing, frequent respiratory infections, and as patients progress, symptoms may worsen or worsen.

These exacerbations, being a chronic disease characterized by crises, are caused by different mechanisms, the most common are usually viral and bacterial infections, the specialist noted.

In this sense, Soler Catalunya noted that the most widely used treatments for this disease are bronchodilators, that is, inhaled drugs that reach the lungs more easily and have fewer side effects.

“The most common treatment is bronchodilators, but the main thing is smoking cessation. For everything to improve, it is necessary to quit smoking, regardless of age, because otherwise the disease will progress and have serious consequences,” he said.

And he added that “today we have very good drugs that provide a stable 24-hour bronchodilation, which we combine with each other and to which we add anti-inflammatory drugs.”

“Recent studies show that triple therapy is superior to other treatments and reduces mortality compared to dual bronchodilation,” he added.

As for other causes of the disease, the specialist noted that the inhalation of other toxic gases, such as those present in environmental pollution, exposure to allergens, inhalation of dust and chemicals in the workplace and even sometimes can manifest as secondary manifestations of the disease. other diseases or be caused by certain drugs.

The specialist recalled that this is a very common disease, which “affects 10% of the population – about 300 million people – while in Argentina it is estimated that 14% of the adult population suffers from it.”

“Diagnosing is easy with spirometry, but we are late,” he warned, adding that “if you have a disease and it progresses, it can lead to respiratory failure and the need to use a respirator, and can also cause a lot of restrictions.” .

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