Prevention 1 October, 2018 Maria Clara Restrepo E.
COPD is a chronic pulmonary condition that limits the airflow in the lungs.
Medical Advisor: Alejandro Casas, Pneumologist
Some of the main risk factors that contribute to the onset of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) include smoking, being over 40 years old, having been exposed to wood and tobacco smoke, dust and other toxic gases (environmental pollutants), or having a history of tuberculosis. Previously known as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, COPD is a group of respiratory conditions that reduce airflow to the lungs.
“In Colombia, about 10 of every 100 people over age 40 have this condition. However, only three of these 10 are ever diagnosed by a doctor and many do not ever consult with their doctor despite having been smokers or being exposed to inhaling certain fumes,” explains pulmonologist Alejandro Casas, Director of the of Comprehensive Care and COPD Patient Education Program (AirCOPD in Spanish), a program Coomeva Private Healthcare offers to its affiliates in Bogota.
Treatment and preventative care
According to the World Health Organization, the most frequent symptoms of COPD are dyspnea (shortness of breath), abnormal expectoration, wheezing and chronic cough. As the condition gets worse, however, everyday activities such as going up the stairs, carrying a suitcase or even brushing your teeth can become difficult. If a person is experiencing some of these warning signs, they should see their doctor as soon as possible.
During such a visit, the doctor may perform a spirometry, which is a method used to make an accurate diagnosis by measuring parameters such as the amount of air that the patient can carry to their lungs and the speed with which the patient is capable of expelling it.
Treating the condition is possible with the proper use of a medication that is delivered through an inhaler, usually a bronchodilator, which helps improve the quality of patients’ lives and prevents the risk of experiencing a coughing or choking attack.
On behalf of Coomeva Private Healthcare, we invite our members and their families to manage their individual risk properly by performing periodic examinations that allow them to be informed about their physical and mental condition, the benefits of fostering smoke-free environments and practicing healthy habits.
Become an advocate
World COPD day will be celebrated in November in order to spread an understanding of the disease to the whole world and improve patient care. Early detection is key to providing proper treatment that can improve the patient’s quality of life.
A valuable initiative
In order to provide comprehensive treatment for members suffering from this disease, the East-Central Regional Headquarters of Coomeva Private Healthcare has been implementing the AirCOPD program for one year in Bogota in partnership with the Pneumology Foundation.
For this program, a team of specialists, consisting of three pulmonologists, a physical therapist and an internal medicine doctor, orients patients to improve their quality of life, so their condition does not worsen or so they do not experience relapses.
Depending on the case, they will support the patient with outpatient visits during the recovery process: “The less the patient is hospitalized and the sooner their pathology can be managed at home, the better the prognosis will be for the individual and better they will feel.
That is our goal and benefit we offer,” states pulmonologist Alejandro Casas, the program’s director. Affiliates in this area of the country also have an emergency hotline available to them to request priority appointments, as well as the opportunity to go to a respiratory gym to strengthen their lung capacity.
15% of all COPD cases are attributed to prolong exposure to certain contaminants at home or in the workplace.