Health Professionals

Plan: Come prepared this winter

A person living with COPD is five times more likely to experience a severe case of COVID-19.

As we know, winter is already a dangerous time for people living with COPD as they are more prone to experiencing an exacerbation and require hospitalisation.  In addition to taking extra precautions to protect themselves against the COVID-19, it is critical for COPD patients to avoid medical intervention where they risk exposure to the virus and place additional strain on our hospitals during this unprecedented time.   

COPD is the leading cause of preventable hospitalisations in Australia.  A delay of 24 hours or more in seeking treatment for a flare-up doubles the chance of hospital admission.

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Come prepared this winter: Dr Norman Swan

Dr Norman Swan discusses the importance of preparing your patients for the winter season ahead, and how we can help keep our community safe and well during both the colder seasons, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Come prepared – remind, recall and action plans 

A history of previous exacerbations may be the strongest predictor of future exacerbations and possible decline in lung function. (Agusti, A., et al., Characterisation of COPD heterogeneity in the ECLIPSE cohort. Respir Res, 2010. 11: p. 122.)You can help prevent COPD exacerbations in your patients this winter by: 

  • Sending reminders and recalling your patients with COPD 
  • Checking for COPD flare-up symptoms 
  • Scheduling their vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia) 
  • Reviewing their COPD medicines (see Stepwise Management of Stable COPD below) 
  • Reviewing their inhaler device technique 
  • Developing their COPD Action Plan 
  • Referring them to pulmonary rehabilitation exercise maintenance classes.
    • Due to regular maintenance programs being on hold, Lung Foundation Australia has develop a series of short home-based exercise videos to support patients maintain movement during this time. View here. 

Please keep in mind that some patients are feeling reluctant to reach out for medical advice in fear of putting themselves at risk of exposure to COVID-19, or of being a burden during a busy time for health professionals. Sending reminders and recalling your patients via telehealth or assuring them of the extra measures in place at your practice to protect them against COVID-19 will help to put their mind at ease while ensuring they have the tools to stay well this winter. 

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Pharmacists

Advanced Practice Pharmacist and Lung Foundation Australia COPD Pharmacy Committee Chair Debbie Rigby talks about the important role pharmacists play in helping people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to stay well this winter and avoid COPD flare-ups.

Inhaler device techniques

Up to 90% of patients with a respiratory condition are not using their inhaler devices correctly and therefore aren’t receiving the dose they should. 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. 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.

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Lung Support Service (Texting for Wellness)

The Lung Support Service (Texting for Wellness) is a free text message support service providing practical advice, information and tips to assist your patients in the management of their COPD. With weekly text messages over 6 months and the ability to opt out at anytime, this service is designed to provide your patients with an additional level of information and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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This program is supported by:

AstraZeneca