Preventing flare-up incidence in people with COPD is critical to survival

  • Boehringer Ingelheim releases breakthrough findings on COPD in new study published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine
  • In the Lebanon, there is general low awareness around COPD. The disease is largely underdiagnosed, and hence undertreated until it is moderately advanced due to the lack of standardized diagnosis method[1]
  • COPD represents a major health concern for developing countries and is ranked as the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. It is expected to become the third leading cause by the year 2030.[2]
  • People with COPD are likely to experience episodes called exacerbations, during which their symptoms become worse than usual day-to-day variation, and persist for at least several days.[3]


Lebanon, Beirut, 2nd of April 2018- Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, has released data from its landmark 52-week DYNAGITO® trial, involving more than 7,800 people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


Among people with COPD, a lowered rate of moderate-to-severe exacerbations or flare-ups was discovered after the trial. The findings support[4] international Global Initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease’s (GOLD)[5] 2018 strategy recommendations, that shed light on the central role treatments play in the management of COPD and help achieve key treatment goals that include reduced symptoms and minimizing the future risk of exacerbations. This study has also been published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine.


In Lebanon, COPD is largely underdiagnosed and hence undertreated until it is moderately advanced due to the lack of standardized methods to diagnose COPD, and general lack of information. The prevalence of COPD, adjusted by age and by gender in Lebanon is 5.3%, with an under diagnosis rate of 28.8%.[6]


COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus production and wheezing. It’s caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from smoking cigarettes. People with COPD are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and a variety of other conditions.[7]

Symptoms of COPD often don’t appear until significant lung damage has occurred, and they usually worsen over time, particularly if smoking exposure continues. These may include shortness of breath, chest tightness, excess mucus in the lungs, frequent respiratory infections, as well as lack of energy.[8]

In the Middle East and North Africa[9] (MENA), the prevalence of COPD has been estimated at around 4 per cent of adults aged over 40 years in the general population.


Dr. Salah Zein El-Din, President of Lebanese Pulmonary society said, “According to several studies, a high prevalence of COPD in Lebanon was determined, 80% of which was undiagnosed by a physician. Older individuals have an increased risk of COPD, in addition to smokers. Awareness must be raised about COPD in Lebanon, and diagnosis must be improved.[10] Early diagnosis is critical to managing the progression of COPD and improving chances of survival. Reduced flare-ups can positively impact disease progression. A flare-up can lead to a 25 per cent loss[11] in lung function often causing COPD to progress even faster[12].”


Dr. Zein El-Din also added, “Flare-ups are usually caused by infection in the lungs or airways and inhaling heavy air pollution. Such exacerbations in COPD can be prevented[13],[14] by smoking cessation, timely vaccination against flu and pneumonia, increased physical activity, adherence to prescribed medications for COPD, regular contact with doctors, adequate sleep, and staying hydrated.”


Dr. Mohamed Meshref, Boehringer Ingelheim’s Medical Director, META said, “At Boehringer Ingelheim, we are actively working to study and develop a close understanding of chronic respiratory diseases that are increasing in frequency, morbidity, and mortality. With their economic and social impact increasing rapidly, early intervention could result in significant reductions in cost and mortality. Largely preventable – it is important to work closely with the primary care service and government bodies to ensure better health outcomes for the population in the region that continues to have a high profile of cardiovascular and respiratory risk factors.”


One in three[15] people hospitalised may have to be readmitted after a flare-up within eight weeks. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), risk factors that contribute to developing COPD, which include tobacco smoking, indoor and outdoor air pollution as well as being exposed to occupational dusts and chemicals. The disease represents a major health concern for developing countries and is ranked as the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, and is expected to become the third leading cause by the year 2030[16].


For over 90 years, Boehringer Ingelheim has emerged as a leader in managing respiratory illnesses, having launched several treatments in a range of conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, IPF and lung cancer. The company focuses on improving the quality of life of patients suffering from debilitating respiratory diseases and enabling them to maintain a more independent life.


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