Improving the management of COPD

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d1674 (Published 05 April 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1674
  1. D M G Halpin, consultant physician and honorary senior clinical lecturer
  1. 1Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter EX2 5DW, UK
  1. david.halpin{at}rdeft.nhs.uk

Must start with strategies to increase the rate of diagnosis

Chronic respiratory disease was a key focus of a European Union ministerial conference in October 2010. Age standardised mortality rates from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the United Kingdom are among the worst in Europe, with only a handful of countries such as Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan reporting worse figures.1 This is particularly true for women, with rates three times higher than those in France and Italy. The results may partly reflect more accurate data collection, particularly as Denmark, which has a long established national patient registry, also reports high mortality despite evidence of good care. Nevertheless, there are reasons to be concerned about the management of this disease in the UK.

COPD is the fifth most common cause of death in England, killing more than 25 000 people a year. As well as its effects on people living with the disease, COPD is a challenge for health services because it is the second biggest cause of emergency admissions to hospital in England. It accounts for a considerable part of the life expectancy gap between spearhead areas (the fifth of areas with …

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