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New study highlights significance of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease flare-ups

COPD causes nearly 30,000 deaths in England each year, with an annual overall cost to the NHS of £1.9bn


A new study funded by AstraZeneca has revealed insights into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations (often referred to as ‘flare-ups’).

The EXACOS-UK study (EXAcerbations of COPD and their OutcomeS) showed that an increased frequency and severity of flare-ups can increase the risk of future incidences and death in primary care COPD patients.

The observational study involved 340,515 COPD patients in the UK, and concluded that even the occurrence of one moderate flare-up increased the likelihood of future episodes, underscoring the fact that every flare-up matters.

COPD is a progressive disease and over 70% of people living with the condition can experience at least one moderate or severe flare-up within three years of diagnosis.

As the second largest cause of emergency hospital admissions in the UK, COPD has recorded admission rates higher than most other European countries. This places a significant overall burden on the NHS, with a cost to the healthcare system of £1.9bn a year.

COPD is the fifth most common cause of death in the UK, causing nearly 30,000 deaths every year in England alone. It is believed that one quarter of these deaths could be avoided with best practice. However, a critically unmet medical need exists for COPD patients, leaving many under-treated and at higher risk of further disease progression.

It has been reported that one third of patients (33.3%) are not reviewed by a respiratory team within 24 hours of hospital admission, while 38% of patients remain under-treated after being discharged from hospital.

From a patient perspective, 39% of patients reportedly take no immediate action when having a flare-up, presenting another challenge for healthcare practitioners in providing efficient and appropriate care.

Yang Xu, head of medical affairs, respiratory at AstraZeneca UK, said: “We have evidence to demonstrate that even a single moderate event increases the risk of future events. Furthermore, a history of increased frequency and severity of flare-ups was associated with an increased risk of future flare-ups and death. This makes the case for a more proactive approach to prevent every flare-up, even moderate ones, which will require system-wide changes in COPD care.

“It is also vital that people are aware of the importance of seeing their doctor if they have a flare-up. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with patient groups, clinicians and the NHS to achieve the best outcomes for people with COPD.”

Article by
Fleur Jeffries

27th April 2022

From: Research



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