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NIH Showcases Research to Mark World COPD Day 2018

Allison Inserro
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) said this week that care for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is expected to cost the United States $49 billion by 2020, as it recapped its research portfolio to mark World COPD Day 2018.
 
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) said this week that care for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is expected to cost the United States $49 billion  by 2020, as it recapped its research portfolio to mark World COPD Day 2018.

In the United States, 16 million people have COPD, killing more than 150,000 people each year. Millions more are believed to have COPD and not know it, as COPD symptoms develop slowly and worsen over time, the NIH said.  

Delays in getting care leads to more aggressive treatment or hospitalization, the NIH said. Scientists are continuing their research on a tool, called CAPTURE, which is a simple questionnaire and breathing test to help healthcare providers identify people at risk for developing COPD before their symptoms worsen.

In addition, NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) created a program called COPD Learn More Breathe Better to work with healthcare providers to facilitate discussions with patients to make earlier diagnosis more possible. The program seeks to increase awareness of COPD, increase understanding that COPD is treatable, and encourage people at risk to get a simple breathing test and talk to their healthcare provider about treatment options. The program targets people over age 35, especially those who smoke or have smoked, and those with risks associated with genetics or environmental exposures. Smoking accounts for 75% of COPD cases; secondhand smoke, environmental pollutants, and genetic factors also play a role.

There are 3 trials that have increased knowledge about COPD, the NIH said:
  • The Nocturnal Oxygen Therapy Trial provided insight into ways long-term oxygen therapy can improve the life expectancy of patients with advanced COPD.
  • The Lung Health Study shows how smoking cessation interventions impact the long-term survival of COPD patients.
  • The National Emphysema Treatment Trial is demonstrating how lung volume reduction surgery might improve the quality of life in certain groups with severe COPD.
In addition, NIH studies are exploring the effectiveness of various pneumococcal vaccines; the usefulness of azithromycin in reducing the severity and occurrence of COPD exacerbations; and the role statin drugs might play in preventing or eliminating those exacerbations. Also, the COPDGene Study is investigating why some smokers develop COPD while others do not.

Other studies are evaluating how various medications affect the treatment of COPD, or to find out if a weight loss and physical activity can improve COPD symptoms for those with a high body mass index (BMI). In addition, last year, the NIH developed the COPD National Action Plan to guide care for COPD patients and other stakeholders.

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