More Action Needed on COPD, Says Leading Expert
VANCOUVER, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - One of the world's leading experts in respiratory diseases, Dr. Bart Celli, today called on governments and health care officials to take greater action on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Speaking at the British Columbia Lung Association, Dr. Celli noted that COPD is the fastest rising cause of death in the world's most advanced countries and represents a growing and potentially crippling financial burden on health care systems.
Dr. Celli referred to the statistics for Canada that show COPD is now the fourth leading cause of death in Canadian men and the fifth leading cause of death in women. He noted that COPD will soon replace breast cancer as the leading cause of death in Canadian women. COPD is the fourth most common cause of adult hospitalizations in Canada. Economic impact studies suggest that the cost of COPD on Canada 's health care system alone now exceeds $3.2-billion each year, a figure that is expected to rise exponentially over the next several years.
"The writing is on the wall, we need to grapple with this terrible disease and devise strategies for how we care and treat it," said Dr. Celli. "We need to demystify it. COPD is not nearly as well known as heart disease or stroke, cancer or diabetes, yet its impact is every bit as devastating. We have to improve diagnosis; we need to ensure better and faster access to the new therapies and treatments that are being developed. In short, we need to be much more pro-active," added Celli.
Dr. Celli spoke favourably of the BC government's recent decision to make COPD one of the five targeted chronic diseases in the province's health strategy. He also praised the Canadian Thoracic Society's new Guidelines which provide medical practitioners with a template for best practices for the care and treatment of COPD patients. These are definitely steps in the right direction, he emphasized.
"This is a progressive disease, so early diagnosis is critical to keeping your health from deteriorating more than it may have already," said Kelly Ablog-Morrant, Director of Health Education Program Services for the British Columbia Lung Association. "Many patients can lead satisfying lives after learning to manage their condition, but a significant number of patients experience severe limitations on their activities."
Dr. Celli's two day visit to Vancouver includes a keynote address to the BC Thoracic Society on Friday evening, which will be video-conference accessible to medical specialists in Victoria, Calgary and Edmonton; meetings at St. Paul's Hospital; and presentations to medical specialists in the Lower Mainland. Dr. Celli is Professor of Medicine at TuftsUniversity in Boston and Chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the St. Elizabeth's Medical Centre at Tufts University School of Medicine. He is the author of more that 120 publications on COPD and is the co-editor of Baum's Textbook of Pulmonary Diseases and Hodgkin's Textbook in Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
COPD is a disease caused by blockage of the airways in lungs. It is treatable but has no cure. The British Columbia Lung Association encourages all British Columbians who have smoked for 10 years or longer and who are experiencing coughing, shortness of breath and sputum to ask their doctor for a spirometry (lung function) test.
For further information: Kelly Ablog-Morrant, Director of Health Education Program Services, Telephone (604) 731-5864, ext 234; Dr. Frank Ervin, President, BC Thoracic Society, Telephone (604) 466-8199