Management

COPD

While there is currently no cure for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), there are things you can do as a health professional to help people with COPD improve their quality of life, increase their capacity for exercise and ultimately, keep well and out of hospital.

Action Plan

Our COPD Action Plan is designed to be completed by a treating health professional, in collaboration with the person with COPD. As a monitoring tool, it helps people with COPD to become familiar with their baseline symptoms, to recognise when their symptoms change (an exacerbation) and what actions to take to reduce the severity and length of symptoms. The COPD Action Plan is available as an editable PDF.

Exercise

Research has shown that regular exercise helps people with COPD maintain their physical fitness (exercise capacity) as well as improves their symptoms and quality of life.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a highly effective 6-8 week evidence-based exercise and education program that teaches people with a lung disease the skills they need to manage their breathlessness and stay well and out of hospital. Lung Foundation offers a range of tools and resources to support the implementation of best practice pulmonary rehabilitation programs.

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Lungs in Action

Lungs in Action is a safe and enjoyable community-based exercise program designed to help people with a chronic lung disease maintain the benefits achieved through pulmonary rehabilitation. Lung Foundation offers a suite of training and resources to support best practice implementation of lungs in action programs.

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Medicines

In combination with non-pharmacological management approaches, inhaled COPD medicines can improve symptoms, thereby reducing activity limitation and improving quality of life for people with COPD. When taken as prescribed COPD medicines also reduce the risk of exacerbations associated with unplanned hospital admissions. However, up to 90% of patients with a respiratory condition are not using their inhaler devices correctly1 and therefore aren’t receiving the dose they need to adequately control symptoms. There are a number of different devices available, and many patients use more than one device thereby increasing the risk of technique errors. Common errors include improper device preparation, poor coordination during use, inadequate speed and/or depth of inspiration as well as absence of a post-inhalation breath hold. This highlights the importance of inhalation technique education.

Lung Foundation Australia has a series of inhaler device technique videos and fact sheets detailing step by step instructions to guide your patients on the correct technique. View Now

We also offer QI&CPD accredited online clinical training courses for COPD medicines and inhaler techniques (featured below).

Exacerbations/Flare-ups

COPD is the most common cause of potentially preventable hospitalisations. Preventing a flare-up is important because an untreated flare-up can mean hospitalisation, and each flare-up does further damage to the lungs.

Each COPD flare-up does long-term damage and can increase the risk of death. It’s vital for your patients to be prepared this winter. Help reduce the risk and check for flare-up symptoms:

  • Coughing more than usual.
  • Finding it harder to breathe than usual.
  • Any change in sputum (phlegm).
  • Feeling more tired and less active than usual.

Developing a COPD Action Plan will help your patients living with COPD to understand their baseline or day-to-day symptoms and current medicines, how to recognise when their symptoms change or worsen and what action they need to take.

References

1. National Health Performance Authority 2015, Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013–14.