Another milestone for COPD-International

Today marks another milestone at COPD-International as we turned 12. What a difference since our website first went online at 1:07am on June 26, 2002.

Back in 2002, the “Shame and Blame” stigma for COPD was running rampant, with patients blaming themselves, families and friends blaming them, and even some in the medical profession contributing to the self inflicted label. Outside of some in the medical profession and those of us with this disease, few even knew the definition of COPD. With few exceptions, the medical professions and governing agencies were almost ignoring the condition, in spite of its ranking back then as the 4th leading cause of death.

Surprisingly little had actually been learned over the years. Studies and clinical trials had been very limited. There were a few organizations offering a “sliver” of support exclusively for the COPD patient, mostly through email lists, message boards and chat rooms. Prior to 2002, there was no organization providing total support as well as a resource for understandable, accurate and consistent information.

COPD International opened its doors focused exclusively on COPD and offered complete support at all levels including: chat rooms, email lists, newsletters, message boards, specialized support areas like exercise and quit smoking, etc. – plus an extensive library.

As we look at today – though much slower than we would like, many major steps have been taken in many parts of the world. COPD awareness is no longer a dream. Little did I foresee that when I sent a simple message, (“Effective 1:07am EDT(6/26)Our website is Open for visitors ….”), to the other founders (Susie Bowers, Deb Hannigan, Billie Mahaffey, Ray Price, Cindy Schian, and Dorothy Williams) that today, you would be visiting us at COPD-International on PCs, laptops, smartphones, Kindles and tablets from over 150 countries. In addition, we have many professionals who use us as a resource for information, as well as referring others to us.

As we go forward into our 13th year, it is our “Birthday wish” that every COPD patient who can will step up to the plate and pitch in. No matter what stage our COPD is at, we can change the face of COPD in one of many ways. Volunteering, donations, registering in a research registry, speaking to groups of all sizes are just a few ways you can do your part.

Change holds all the promise for the future – ours as well as the future of those who come behind us.

One of a COPD patient’s biggest concerns – Treating Pneumonia

In a VA North Texas Health Care System and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas study of nearly 65,000 patients 65 years and older who were hospitalized with pneumonia, treatment that included azithromycin compared with other antibiotics was associated with a significantly lower risk of death and a slightly increased risk of heart attack.

The final analysis reported in the June 4 issue of JAMA included 31,863 patients who received azithromycin and 31,863 matched patients who did not, but some other guideline-concordant therapy. The researchers found that 90-day mortality was significantly lower in those who received azithromycin (17.4 percent, vs 22.3 percent). There was also an increased odds of heart attack (5.1 percent vs 4.4 percent), but not any cardiac event (43.0 percent vs 42.7 percent), cardiac arrhythmias (25.8 percent vs 26.0 percent), or heart failure (26.3 percent vs 26.2 percent).

Pneumonia and influenza together are the eighth leading cause of death and the leading causes of infectious death in the United States, and despite recent research suggesting that azithromycin may be associated with increased cardiovascular events, this study indicates that the benefits of azithromycin treatment for it far outweigh the possible risks.

Resource:  http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-06-outcomes-older-adults-pneumonia-treatment.html

A Warning about the COPD Diet Study Results

A recent widely reported study has shown a direct link between eating fish, fruit and dairy products and improved lung function among patients with COPD, including less emphysema, improved six-minute walk test scores, improved SGRQ questionnaire scores, and a decrease in certain inflammatory indicators. The study results specifically include grapefruit as one of the fruits.

It has long been known that grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interact with certain medications. The interaction level can range from minor changes in a medication’s effectiveness to a dangerous and even deadly level. The list of dangerous side effects includes heart rhythm problems, kidney failure, muscle breakdown, difficulty with breathing and blood clots.

As little as one grapefruit or one 8-ounce glass of grapefruit juice can cause an effect that may last more than 24 hours. To see a list of the more common medications and their side effects when taken with grapefruit, go to: http://www.rxlist.com/grapefruit-page3/supplements.htm

May 31st is World No Tobacco Day

Every year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) partners with governments,  military installations, non-profit organizations and individuals world wide to mark World No Tobacco Day. Founded by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987, the goal of this annual event is to increase the awareness of the adverse health effects of tobacco products, which kill an estimated 6 million people worldwide every year. The theme of this years world no tobacco day centers around banning tobacco industry promotion, advertising and marketing by calling on countries to raise taxes on tobacco since research has shown that higher taxes are especially effective in reducing tobacco use and preventing young people from starting to smoke.

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is currently responsible for 10% of adult deaths worldwide. Many studies have shown that smokers cost the health care system and health insurers more than non-smokers.  Stopping smoking worldwide will help prevent millions of unnecessary deaths and save a huge amount in health care costs.

COPD International honored as one of the best COPD blogs for 2014

For the third year, COPD-International’s website and blog has been selected as one of the best COPD blogs of 2014 by Healthline.com. Healthline.com is the online home of Health Magazine

In their write up, they say:
Obtaining the latest news about COPD is just as important as learning about the basics. This is where the COPD International Blog can help. COPD treatment is always evolving. This blog’s goal is to make sure readers have the latest facts at hand.

Learn about topics like the importance of exercise and health care coverage. Throughout all of the information, COPD International Blog maintains a positive tone and asserts that “COPD is not a death sentence.”

COPD information and support with your smartphone or tablet

The COPD-International website is optimized for smart phones and smaller tablets!  Almost all of the features of the full website are available to you while you are on the go.   Larger tablets can access the main site as well.

The mobile site contains most of the important parts of the main COPD-International website, including extensive information about COPD, access to the library affording you a searchable access to over 500 files on COPD organized in an easy to find format, as well as access to the latest COPD news and our blog. The site features an interactive capability for guidance and support by linking to our main site’s message boards and information on chats.

All of this is available without having to download an app!  Simply enter COPD-International.com on your smartphone or tablet.  The full URL, if needed is http://copd-international.com/mobile.

Every hospitalized COPD patient needs a watchdog

Several studies have identified a so called weekend effect for COPD patients who are admitted into the hospital on a weekend, resulting in an increase in the risk of dying.
There were several explanations for this, including:

  • Shortage of staff
  • Reduced availability of services
  • Patients with severe exacerbations going directly to the ER
  • Patients with milder symptoms waiting to see their doctors during the week

In a new study, researchers from the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, used medical records to examine death rates in over 300,000 people over the age of 50 who were admitted to hospital with either COPD or pneumonia between 1990 and 2007

This new study analyzed the ‘weekend effect on COPD’ in a different way. This new study evaluated the risk by assessing whether patients who stayed in hospital over the weekend, even if they were admitted earlier in the week, also experienced an increased risk of death.

The results of this new approach to the weekend effect demonstrated that, regardless of when patients are admitted to hospital, the stay over the weekend increases the risk of death.

  • Weekdays, the death rate was 80 per 10,000 per day.
  • Friday, the death rate increased by 5%, (an increase of 4 deaths per 10,000).
  • Saturday and Sunday the death rate increased by 7% (an increase of 5.6 deaths per 10,000 for each day)

This study indicates that the increase in the risk of death is due to a reduced quality of care, or reduced access to high quality care at the weekend, and actually begins with Friday.

To defend against this, regardless of the cause, be it low staffing – less qualified staff – indifference – reduced availability of services, enlist a friend or family member to act a your watchdog.

Your watchdog does not need to be “medically proficient”.   Asking a few simple questions and observing the overall care is often enough. This person must be willing to speak up when needed – - one who is very observant and can be a bit pushy – - and if possible can “drop in to visit” at all different hours.  The uncertainness of your watchdog’s arrival times tends to make a staff more aware, resulting in better care.

Data source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/276780.php

Caregivers resources: http://www.copd-international.com/caregivers/

World Asthma Day is Tuesday, May 6th 2014

World Asthma Day – May 6, 2014, sponsored by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) is a partnership between health care groups and asthma educators to raise awareness about asthma and improve asthma care throughout the world. With the theme of “You Can Control Your Asthma,” and a sub theme of “It’s Time to Control Asthma,” this year’s events continue the focus on the positive themes established over the past several years, with activities aimed at identifying and addressing opportunities for improved control of asthma.

The first World Asthma Day, in 1998, was celebrated in more than 35 countries in conjunction with the first World Asthma Meeting held in Barcelona, Spain. Participation has increased with each World Asthma Day since then, and the day has become one of the world’s most important asthma awareness and education events aimed at reaching the estimated 300 million people worldwide now have asthma according to the Global Burden of Asthma Report.

For many COPD patients, asthma is another component of their condition.  Some consider chronic asthma as one of the diseases falling under the umbrella term of COPD.

For more information visit: The Global Initiative for asthma website at http://www.ginasthma.org/

Certain sedatives linked to breathing issues for COPD patients

A new Canadian study has found that Benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan) or alprazolam (Xanax), which are commonly prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety, increase the risk of serious breathing problems in older people with COPD

Those who had been newly prescribed a benzodiazepine had a 45 percent increased risk of experiencing breathing problems that required outpatient treatment.  In addition, the study found that these patients also had a 92 percent greater risk of needing to go to the emergency room for treatment of pneumonia or COPD, and were more likely to be hospitalized for breathing problems.

The severity of a patient’s COPD did not appear to be a factor. Patients with less advanced and more advanced COPD showed a similar outcome.

ref: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-04-adverse-respiratory-outcomes-older-people.html

Regular exercise can reduce hospital readmissions for COPD patients

Two and a half hours per week of exercise can reduce hospital readmissions for COPD patients….

In a study of the electronic health records of 6,042 Kaiser Permanente COPD patients in Southern California who were 40 years or older and who were hospitalized with COPD between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2012, researchers found that regular physical activity could cut the need for hospital readmission.

These health records were obtained as part of Kaiser Permanente’s clinical practice to inquire about exercise as a vital sign, The patients’ self-reported physical activity was documented in their electronic health record during routine clinical visits along with other vital signs such as blood pressure. The patient base in this study was ethnically diverse – consisting of patients who were 68 percent white, 15 percent black, 12 percent Hispanic, and 4 percent Asian/Pacific Islander. The number of men and women in the study was also similar to the overall COPD patient population.

The findings concluded that patients with COPD who exercised 150 minutes or more a week (1/2 hour per day – 5 days a week) had a 34 percent lower risk of readmission within 30 days compared to those who were inactive. Patients who reported exercising less than 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity still had a lower risk of 30-day readmission compared to those who did not exercise at all.

Read more: http://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/news/20140409/exercise-may-curtail-copd-complications?src=RSS_PUBLIC