AARC Keynote: Unmet Needs of COPD Patients
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For Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, the world changed on Sept. 25,
2001. That's the day her doctor advised her to make end-of-life preparations
after diagnosing her with stage 4, very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary
The diagnosis was a complete shock. "In August 2001, I
thought I was in very good health based on the results of my very incomplete
physical," said Dorney Koppel, wife of famed newscaster Ted Koppel. Like many
Americans, her annual physical exam did not include spirometry screening.
Today in the keynote address at the AARC's 57th
International Respiratory Convention and Exhibition in Tampa, Fl, she urged
respiratory therapists to build evidence to support early COPD screenings.
Because patients are not routinely screened for COPD until they start
exhibiting the symptoms of cough, wheezing, and breathlessness, "too many of
Americans are unaware of COPD," said Dorney Koppel. While spirometry is
inexpensive and easy to perform, many clinicians are unaware of the disease's
reversibility and treatment options. Research is needed to quantify and better
Studies also are needed to identify the underlying genetic
components that lead 20 percent of smokers to develop COPD, while 80 percent
remain disease-free. Finding that phenotype could unlock new treatments and new
ways of measuring the disease progress and reversibility.
"From this impatient patient's perspective-and yes, my
pulmonologist has called me that-we are not yet meeting the needs of the 12
million people who have COPD and the 12 million who have COPD and don't know
it," said Dorney Koppel.
But respiratory therapists on the front lines of care can
make more of a difference than any other medical professional out there, she said.
"(You can) dispense courage to those who have lung disease that it is not yet
curable, but is treatable."