December 14, 2017

Giving hope to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary patients

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease () is recognised all over the world as a public health problem and the Cayman Islands is not an exception. In the Cayman Islands, diseases of the respiratory system account for 10% of deaths, the third leading cause of death among residents as of 2015 according to the Economics and Statistics Office.

COPD is a progressive, -threatening lung disease characterised by persistent reduction of airflow. It is caused by a toxic trigger (most commonly, smoking), along with a genetic predisposition that makes one susceptible to COPD.

Common symptoms of COPD are chronic cough, excessive sputum production and shortness of breath, particularly during exertion. It can be prevented by avoiding tobacco, including secondhand smoke, and exposure to other air toxins. Globally, it is estimated that about 3 million deaths were caused by the disease in 2015 alone, accounting for five percent of all deaths in that year.

According to the , COPD is likely to increase in the coming years due to higher smoking prevalence and aging populations in many countries and is now affecting men and women almost equally.

“Tobacco use and other air pollutants are the root causes of COPD in most cases, and anyone can be affected,” said Dr. Samuel Gurevich, MD, Pulmonologist in the Department of Pulmonary Medicine Cleveland Clinic Florida. “Tackling this problem on a global scale is difficult and requires cooperation from government, health and industry leaders.”

“Find out how you can get involved at your local government level, including participating in education campaigns regarding the ill effects of smoking,” he said. “Young people are especially at risk, with more than half of new smokers under the age of 18. At a personal level, educate your family, friends and coworkers, and help them make the healthy choice.”

COPD is diagnosed by a special set of pulmonary function tests called Spirometry and other suggestive signs and symptoms reported by patients. Cleveland Clinic Florida offers a wide range of treatment options for COPD including education, smoking cessation, medications, and review of surgical and novel treatment options. Through accurate diagnosis, medical therapy, emotional support, exercise and education, patients can return to a higher quality of life and functional capacity leading to a better, longer life.

Treatment for COPD includes managing the disease through . An expert team, which includes a respiratory therapist trained in exercise physiology, creates a program tailored to each patient. can include breathing exercises, cardiovascular exercise and resistance training, all in a monitored and controlled environment.

Cleveland Clinic Florida’s comprehensive Pulmonary Rehabilitative Program also focuses on many other pulmonary illnesses, such as Asthma, Pulmonary Hypertension, Cystic Fibrosis, Lung Cancer and more.

IMAGE: From Cleveland Clinic

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