ROME, November 17 /PRNewswire/ --

- Global Survey Reveals Need for Intense Public Education and Action -

World COPD Day 2008 features new patient and health professional initiatives that address the misconceptions and lack of awareness surrounding chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These misconceptions -- revealed in a global survey, the International COPD Coalition (ICC) Report -- include poor public awareness that smoking is the main cause of COPD, a failure to diagnosis COPD in its early stages, when medication can be used to prevent further lung deterioration, and a mistaken belief that initial COPD symptoms, like coughing and shortness of breath, are a normal consequence of aging.

This survey reveals the devastating extent to which COPD is an under-recognized and under-treated disease, despite the fact that it is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, said Ms. Mariadelaide Franchi, ICC Co-Chair. The results have driven us to develop a series of powerful new initiatives launching on World COPD Day 2008, she added.

Patient and Health Professional Initiatives

New initiatives include the UNITE! annual survey, designed to build on the ICC Report survey to secure country-specific COPD data while providing an overview of COPD prevalence and management challenges worldwide. This data will form the basis of a worldwide database of COPD statistics and information, providing national health care providers, public health and government officials with the information they need to develop targeted disease prevention and treatment programs.

The new Ask About COPD initiative is directed to health care providers and COPD patient organizations, and emphasizes their roles in educating patents about the disease's symptoms, diagnostic tools and management. ICC will provide buttons healthcare providers and other COPD experts can wear to stimulate patient's questions about COPD, as well as office posters and a COPD fact sheet that encourage patients to initiate a dialogue about their risk factors and symptoms. In addition, the new Faces Forward COPD! program will feature patient profiles and testimonials from COPD patient organizations around the world.

Each of these programs is uniquely designed to motivate people to speak with their health professionals and other COPD experts about COPD risk factors and symptoms, and to get diagnosed early and receive the treatment they need to have a high quality of life, Dr. Yousser Mohammad, ICC Chair said.

Overview of Global Survey Results

The ICC Report revealed that the majority of COPD patients do not receive a COPD diagnosis until their disease has progressed to the severe stage, after their COPD symptoms are substantial. As a result, there are a large number of patients who might have benefited from treatment earlier in their disease in order to prevent further lung deterioration. Lack of early diagnosis is due to several issues:

-- There is an overall lack of awareness of COPD causes and symptoms among the public -- Initial COPD symptoms, like coughing, sputum production and shortness of breath frequently are not recognized as the first signs of COPD; instead they are accepted as a normal consequence of aging

The survey also demonstrated there is low awareness among patients about COPD overall and key risk factors. For example, in many countries, smoking -- the main cause of COPD -- is not viewed as harmful or as a main cause of developing COPD. Other survey findings include:

-- Although most COPD patents receive their care from general practitioners (GPs), many lack the requisite knowledge to diagnose COPD, don't have appropriate diagnostic equipment (e.g., spirometers), do not follow COPD disease management algorithms and protocols, and have difficulties differentiating between asthma and COPD. Furthermore, many people with COPD have restricted access to lung specialists, medications and rehabilitation facilities due to affordability and reimbursement barriers

About World COPD Day 2008

World COPD Day 2008 will take place on Wednesday, November 19, and is organized by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) in collaboration with health care professionals and ICC COPD patient groups throughout the world. Its aim is to raise awareness about COPD and improve care throughout the world.

Each year GOLD coordinates preparation and distribution of World COPD Day materials and resources. Since the first World COPD Day in 2001, organizers in more than 50 countries worldwide have carried out activities, making the day one of the world's most important COPD awareness and education events. Activities include:

-- Public service announcements, posters, billboards, stickers, newspaper articles, and radio advertisements highlighting the theme of World COPD Day 2008. -- Demonstrations of Spirometry -- World COPD day walks, runs, and swims involving people with COPD, and their families and friends -- Exercise classes, dance performances, coping skills workshops, and support group sessions to help COPD patients live active fuller lives -- Clinics and health fairs to brig attention to COPD and to provide attention to good COPD care -- Seminars for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers on the latest providers on the latest international guidelines for COPD diagnosis and treatment

See what activities are planned for World COPD Day in your area.

About COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects more than 340 million people worldwide and represents the fourth leading cause of death, after cerebrovascular, heart and infectious diseases. Although COPD is increasing in prevalence it is widely under-diagnosed and under-treated in many parts of the world. The early stages of COPD are often unrecognized, although determining a person's risk of developing COPD is straightforward. If COPD is detected early, treatments are available to prevent further lung deterioration.

About ICC

The International COPD Coalition (ICC) works with health care professionals and public health officials around the world to raise awareness of COPD and to improve prevention and treatment of this lung disease. Through the dissemination of evidence-based guidelines for COPD management, and events such as the annual celebration of World COPD Day, ICC is working to improve the lives of people with COPD in every corner of the globe.

Andrea Cohen, +1-973-763-1137