Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease on the rise: AKU professor


KARACHI: Senior pulmonologist Professor Dr Javaid Khan at the Aga Khan University said on Wednesday that the rise in people’s habit of smoking, as well as their exposure to atmospheric pollution, has greatly increased people’s vulnerability to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Addressing a session held to mark the World COPD day, he said that COPD was responsible for 71 deaths per every 100,000 people.

Dr Khan, who is also the representative of the global alliance for obstructive lung diseases in the region, added, “This is the fourth highest death rate among the 25 most populous nations in the world.”

The speaker mentioned that World COPD day 2017 was being observed on Wednesday under the theme “many faces of COPD.

He particularly warned smokers of the horrors of COPD, adding that COPD was a devastating lung disease which progressively robbed sufferers of breath.

“Growing atmospheric pollution is emerging as a serious risk for people, in general, to contract the ailment and suffer from its associated risks,” warned the senior pulmonologist.

Professor Khan urged the government to take measures not only for the implementation of anti-smoking laws but also for the control of atmospheric pollution.

According to the World Health Organization, COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death worldwide and is projected to be the third leading cause of death by 2020

More than 3 million people die from the disease each year, and up to 10 percent of adults over the age of 40 worldwide are susceptible to having it.

Shedding light on the early symptoms of COPD, Professor Khan said that coughing, bringing up sputum and getting out of breath during exercise or exertion constitute the usual early symptoms.

Without treatment, COPD is generally a progressive disease, causing patients to become breathless even during everyday activities, like climbing stairs and dressing in the morning, as it worsens.

A simple, painless breathing test called spirometry can confirm whether a person has COPD or not, he said in reply to a question, mentioning that the test was not available in most hospitals of Pakistan.

“Treatment for COPD is available, and it is most effective when the disease is diagnosed early,” said the professor.

He said that in addition to seeing their doctors, patients can benefit from the support of friends and family as these can ensure that the patient gets a balanced diet, exercises regularly and is well cared for.