Killer disease thousands don't realise they're battling, costing one billion every year

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Lung Foundation Australia is calling for more action from the federal government to ensure care and treatment for people living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Tomorrow (15 November) is World COPD Day.

Lung Foundation Australia CEO Mark Brooke said the organisation aimed to put the disease back on the political agenda. He said it calls for a federal review of the diagnosis of COPD and other chronic respiratory diseases.

“Up to half a million Australians live with COPD, yet too many suffer alone undiagnosed. Many more don’t receive the care they need to manage their COPD effectively,” said Mr Brooke.

“One year ago, Lung Foundation Australia launched the COPD blueprint report, which set out Australia’s first, comprehensive road map for COPD reform. Now we highlight two key areas, diagnosis and care, where we must start to see change.

“This World COPD Day we must stand up on behalf of the COPD community, advocating in the rooms and chambers where decisions are made. Let’s break down the stigma, ensure earlier and accurate diagnosis of this common condition and improve outcomes for hundreds of thousands of Australians.”

Lung Foundation Australia said COPD cost the Australian health system around $995 million in 2019-20 and is the most common cause of potentially preventable hospitalisations for chronic conditions – more than heart failure, diabetes complications, and asthma.

Mr Brooke said while we know up to 500,000 Australians face the daily worry of life with COPD, the most worrying thing about these numbers is that up to 50 per cent of cases are not diagnosed.

“That’s another 200,000 Aussies who may find themselves experiencing an exacerbation out of nowhere,” he said. “Early and accurate diagnosis supports more timely and more appropriate medical and risk modification interventions and, consequently, improved outcomes.”