GSKs CAT to help COPD patients better manage their chronic lung disease

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Singapore, Mar 30, 2010: A new and simple test to help patients cope better with COPD, a chronic lung disease is being launched to local medical practitioners of Singapore. Experts now hope the COPD Assessment Test (CAT) that was funded by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and is freely available for use, will be a significant breakthrough in efforts to reduce the burden of one of the world’s most debilitating diseases.

The CAT seeks to measure the impact of COPD on a patient’s health by enabling them to describe their symptoms more accurately. This will improve communication with their doctor and give a better understanding of the disease’s true impact, allowing treatment to be better targeted and the patient’s care to be optimized.

Professor Paul Jones, St George’s, University of London, UK, who led the development of the tool and was in Singapore to launch it, said, “Our traditional methods of measuring the severity of COPD through lung function tests do not adequately reflect the range of effects that the disease can have on patients’ symptoms, daily activities and well-being. As COPD worsens over time, it can be difficult for physicians to accurately gauge its full effect on patients. Patients get used to their symptoms so can understate the severity of their disease when asked. As a result, we are not currently achieving the levels of treatment success that may be possible.”

Although tests do currently exist to assess COPD, some only look at specific aspects of the disease, such as breathlessness, rather than its overall impact, and some are too complex to be used in daily practice. Professor Jones added, “The CAT has been developed to address these issues, for the first time giving us a simple, quick and reliable measurement of a patient’s health status that will improve communication and help gain a common disease understanding between doctors and patients.”

Professor Jones further noted, “COPD can have a devastating impact on patients. They suffer a heavy burden of symptoms, and struggle to do everyday things that most people take for granted. With the right management, this can be reduced, but doctors need a clear picture of what their patient is experiencing which the CAT will help provide. We hope this advance in COPD management will ultimately improve patient lives, helping to ensure their health and well-being is as good as it can be.”

The CAT is designed for patients to complete themselves, and was developed from many interviews with patients coupled with rigorous scientific methodology. A wide range of international experts in COPD, patient groups and professional societies also helped develop it.

COPD limits airflow in the lungs causing breathing difficulties that affect patients’ health, quality of life and ultimately survival. Over 210 million people worldwide have the condition and it causes around 250 deaths every hour, more than lung and breast cancer combined. In Singapore, there is an estimated 64,000 cases of moderate to severe COPD, which is the 7th leading cause of death among Singaporeans. The figure is expected to rise due to an aging population and an increase of young smokers.

However, the disease is under managed partly due to difficulties in describing and assessing its full impact, causing patients to suffer increased symptoms, risk of hospitalization and disability.

© BioSpectrum Bureau


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