6.9mn Pakistanis suffer from COPD


KARACHI: Head of Pulmonology at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Prof Dr Nadeem Ahmed Rizvi, on Monday revealed that more than 6.9 million people are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Pakistan, and smoking is the leading factor behind this disease.

This he said while addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club.

Head of Pulmonology, Ojha Institute of Chest Diseases, Dow University of Health Sciences Dr Nisar Rao and Senior Pulmonologist Dr Musavir Ansari were also present.

Prof Rizvi said treatment and awareness of COPD has become a challenge for the world as it is one of most common respiratory disorders worldwide, affecting approx 210 million people around the world. He said it is expected that by 2020 it will be the 3rd leading cause of death from chronic diseases worldwide.

He said that smoking is the major contributor that accounts for up to 75 percent of all cases of COPD. Not only smokers are at higher risk but they also harm other people by affecting through passive smoking. He urged people to stay away from smoking and other air pollutants.

Associate Professor, Dr Nisar Rao, said that COPD is a common preventable disease, characterized by persistent airflow limitation that is usually progressive and associated with an enhanced chronic inflammatory response in the airways and the lungs.

He stressed that patients have to take care of their routines and habits; they have to avoid triggers like cigarette smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes and dust. He said once diagnosed with COPD, daily medication is vital to fight with disease along with short-acting rescue inhalers. He said COPD is a chronic disease and has no cure.

While sharing data of COPD symptoms, Pulmonologist Dr Musavir Ansari said that prevalence rate of COPD related symptoms is 18.5 percent and 26.7 percent patients come with co morbidities. Similarly, around 33.3 percent COPD patients hospitalized for their condition and 26.7 percent patients visited an emergency room due to their respiratory condition.

He explained that COPD prevalence is generally higher in men than women. Any patient above 40 might be a victim of COPD who has dyspnoea (increasing effort to breathe), chronic cough, chronic sputum production, history of tobacco smoke, smoke from home cooking, dusts and chemicals, past medical history: asthma, allergy, sinusitis, family history or other respiratory diseases.

Speakers stressed that lack of awareness and unavailability of data is adding to the misery. They said it is one of the most serious threats to our society as it does not only make a patient suffer but making it difficult for him to do normal activities.

They said it is high time that health authorities and media join hands to root out this deadly disease from our society as awareness among people about the disease is very essential for the early diagnosis and treatment.