There is no universal answer as to when COPD starts. COPD is a condition that occurs at different ages and effects everyone. The sad truth is that anyone can get this disease at some point in their life. Thankfully though, there is some information that has become available over the last several decades that gives us a better idea about how and when COPD can occur.
Over 100,000 people die each year in the US from COPD with the vast majority being above the age of 55. There are many contributing factors to the disease namely age, smoking, asthma and in rare cases a genetic disorder called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Shortness of breath, chronic cough and tightness of the chest are all symptoms are reported at the start of COPD with more severe side effects presenting as the disease grows in severity. Patients require oxygen support and lose over 50 percent of lung function, making breathing that much harder.
This adds up to a large aging population that will all experience illness which, in the elderly, tends to result in hospital stays and prolonged illness. These hospital stays can be frequent resulting in a heavy burden of both time (number of days spent in the hospital) and money for the US Medicare and insurance system. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) which is experienced by more than 11% of the Medicare population and manifests in lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refectory asthma and a host of other sick lung conditions.
As a way to address this growing burden on the healthcare system – home treatment is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative. There is a strong need to effectively treat COPD sufferers in their homes by providing in-home solutions such as non-invasive ventilation (NIV) equipment complemented by knowledgeable support staff such as respiratory therapists and other medical staff.
The continued trend of servicing patients in the home rather than in hospitals is aligned with Viemed’s vision and this will continue to offer opportunity for growth. Viemed expects to continue to be a solution to the rising US health costs by offering more cost effective home based solutions while increasing the quality of life for patients fighting serious respiratory diseases including COPD and Chronic Respiratory Failure.