To anyone working in this field, it has been known for a while that COPD is an increasingly important and deadly disease. Today, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death, and the World Health Organization predicts that it will rise to third place by 2020. Nonetheless, the disease is still little known to much of the public, and large epidemiological studies to quantify the lifetime risk factors associated with COPD are still few and far between. So it’s a good thing that one such study by Gershon et al., recently published in The Lancet1, was readily picked up by CTV health reporter Avis Favaro and featured in their national evening news on September 8. The clip describes COPD as a “little-known lung disorder” that is “a bigger problem than people think”. Watch it here.
Watch for the cough…
One of the interesting things that this clip shows is what it’s like for many patients to take a spirometry exam. If you watch the very start of the clip, you may notice two things. First, the lady taking the test doesn’t look very comfortable after she has performed the manoeuvre and blown into the spirometer. Second, you can clearly see that the spirometry test triggers a cough response in this patient. Any RT will happily tell you that this is a common occurrence that can severely interfere with performing the manoeuvre. Obtaining three valid consecutive spirometry manoeuvres in a patient like this may prove to be quite a challenge, without any fault on behalf of the patient or the technician.
The starting sequence of this clip therefore illustrates quite nicely what many experts have said for years: although spirometry is considered quite useful when it is performed well, it also has many shortcomings and limitations, especially for those patients that would benefit the most from accurate and reliable lung function assessment.
The Forced Oscillation Technique (FOT) is still in its infancy compared to decades-old spirometry. Because a patient simply breathes quietly through an FOT device such as our tremoFlo, though, the FOT has the potential to provide a better alternative to measure lung function – especially in patients like Eileen Anderson who need it the most.
1Andrea S Gershon, Laura Warner, Paul Cascagnette, J Charles Victor, Teresa To. Lifetime risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a longitudinal population study. The Lancet, Vol. 378 (9795): 991-996, September 2011.