More than one million Canadians are living with COPD and don’t know it
It is estimated that 1.6 million Canadians live with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), yet it is believed that almost as many have COPD and don’t know it. COPD is a disease many Canadians are unaware of and it is now the third leading cause of death, and the number one cause of hospitalization, in Canada. It is a disease that places a tremendous burden on patients, caregivers, and the healthcare system.
The Lung Association has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. on a national project, Helping the Missing Million. The project’s purpose is to better understand why patients aren’t getting diagnosed with COPD sooner, and then determine what needs to be done to ensure that they are.
The full results of this multi-phased project will launch in the spring of 2019. However, the initial findings are alarming. A survey, conducted by Leger, of those diagnosed with COPD and those at high-risk of developing it found that prior to being diagnosed, 56 per cent of patients did not know what COPD was. 35 per cent of people with one COPD symptom did not speak to their doctor about it. Before being diagnosed, 65 per cent of patients were experiencing symptoms for at least one year. Among those who experienced any COPD symptoms, only 44 per cent had a spirometry test to investigate the symptoms further. A Spirometry test is a pulmonary function test. It is thought to be the gold standard in diagnosing COPD.