Two million people in the UK have undiagnosed COPD, and you could be one of them

Woman on COPD app.
Woman on COPD app.
Promoted by NHS

Out of breath? Wheezing? Persistent cough or chest infections? You could be suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

An estimated three million people in the UK have COPD; around 900,000 are diagnosed and approximately two million have COPD which remains undiagnosed.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a group of lung diseases that include chronic bronchitis, emphysema and small airways disease. Lung damage over a long period of time impairs the flow of air in and out of the lungs and causes breathlessness.

The main cause is smoking, although in rare cases the condition can affect people who have never smoked. However, the likelihood of developing COPD increases the more you smoke and the longer you smoke.

Some cases of COPD are caused by long-term exposure to harmful fumes or dust, or occur as a rare genetic problem that means the lungs are more vulnerable to damage.

Dr Ian Pattison, clinical chair at NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “COPD is the second-most-common lung disease in the UK and the most prevalent in the North of England.

Old man using myCOPD app.

Old man using myCOPD app.

“In Sunderland alone we have nearly 10,000 people diagnosed with the disease. We know that more people will be suffering with COPD, but they remain undiagnosed.

“If you or someone you know is experiencing breathing problems, the earlier you get a diagnosis the better it will be in terms of keeping healthy and managing the condition. See your GP if you have a persistent cough and breathlessness.”

COPD is treatable but not curable, and early diagnosis and treatment can help to slow the decline in lung function and increase the amount of time that people with COPD have to enjoy an active life.

How do you manage COPD?

myCOPD app on phone.

myCOPD app on phone.

The disease is usually managed with a combination of inhalers and oral medication, pulmonary rehabilitation and lifestyle management i.e stopping smoking. Now, patients with COPD in Sunderland will benefit from an innovative new app which will transform the way they manage their condition.

myCOPD is a free, clinically-approved NHS smart device app, developed by specialist doctors and nurses. The app is full of useful information and advice on managing the condition including inhaler technique videos, education from experts and a complete online pulmonary rehabilitation class.

It’s being made available to patients in Sunderland with funding from NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England.

myCOPD can be downloaded onto any internet connected smart device such as phones, tablets, computers and smart TVs using a licence code provided by doctors and nurses when they are treating people with the condition.

myCOPD app on tablet.

myCOPD app on tablet.

Dr Ian Pattison said: “Patients using this app will be able to take greater control of their condition by monitoring managing and keeping track of their symptoms, all from the comfort of their own homes.

“By giving patients access to myCOPD we can ensure they get accurate and helpful information. Having access to good quality advice can help people manage their condition and keep themselves well.

“There is no cure for COPD and good symptom management plays a crucial role in helping patients stay as healthy as possible to prevent exacerbations. Exacerbations often require intensive treatment and can be severe enough to require hospital admission.”

The app is being introduced to patients following World COPD Awareness Day on November, 21. World COPD Day is organised by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) in collaboration with health care professionals and COPD patient groups across the world.