Nearly 33% patients screened with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are found to be non-smokers at screening dirve in 44 government medical colleges across India.
The drive was organized by CREST, an institute dedicated for research and education in the field of chronic lung diseases based in Pune.
This is the first nationwide screening program for COPD in India. It was noticed that every sixth patient who visited a chest OPD had COPD.
Every patient visiting the chest department was screened for COPD using a screening tool comprising a set of 8 questions and a peak flow meter test.
Those who were screened positive underwent a spirometry test that was performed by the Breathe free educator team of Cipla. Those found positive on Spirometry were then seen by the treating doctor.
The final diagnosis of COPD was based on spirometry and by the treating doctor in the medical college . It was observed that 2440 patients visited OPD for screening , every 6th patient was found to have COPD in which 75% were males and 25% were females. Out of those 269 (11%) were found to have COPD.
Dr. Sundeep Salvi, Director, CREST, Said “COPD is a chronic, progressive lung disease with intermittent periods of exacerbations, called lung attacks, that can often be fatal. It is caused by long-term exposure to noxious pollutants that causes damage to the breathing tubes and the gas exchange portion of the lung.”
“Tobacco smoking in any form, household air pollution from the burning of biomass fuels for cooking purposes, burning of mosquito coils, long-term exposure to ambient air pollution from motor vehicular exhausts, industry smoke, road dust, and working in dusty workplaces for many years are the risk factors associated with COPD. Recurrent respiratory tract infections during childhood, poverty, and chronic poorly treated asthma are the other causes of COPD,” he explained.
“COPD can be diagnosed with the help of a test called Spirometry, yet many doctors or hospitals across India do not have this test, and as a result, a lot of COPD remains undiagnosed and wrongly diagnosed, leading to undertreatment and wrong treatment and therefore more suffering and death,” added Dr. Salvi.
This screening program across 44 medical colleges in India highlights the huge burden of COPD in our country. The COPD screening tool was developed by Chest Research Foundation and Pulmocare Research and Education (PURE) Foundation.
Use of a simple COPD screening tool followed by Spirometry among those who are screen positive both in the clinic as well as in the community is required to make an early and accurate diagnosis of COPD.
According to the latest figures, India has an estimated 50 million people living with COPD. It is the 2nd leading cause of death and suffering in India. Every day more than 2400 people die due to COPD in India, which is more than the number of people who die because of tuberculosis (1157), diabetes (748), and HIV-AIDS (126) all put together.
According to the 2019 Global Burden Disease Report COPD due to Tobacco Smoking in India is 29% whereas COPD due to Air Pollution in India is 53.3% .Yet, COPD does not receive the recognition that it deserves.