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Helping the Missing Million

Helping the Missing Million

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, Dec. 5, 2018

More than one million Canadians are estimated to be living with COPD and don't know it

TORONTO, Dec. 5, 2018 /CNW/ - It is estimated that 1.6 million Canadians live with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), yet it is believed that almost as many have COPD and don't know it. COPD, a disease many Canadians are unaware of, is now the third leading cause of death and the number one cause of hospitalization in Canada. It is a disease that places a tremendous burden on patients, caregivers and the healthcare system.

The Lung Association has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. on a national project, Helping the Missing Million, to better understand why patients aren't getting diagnosed with COPD sooner, and then determine what needs to be done to ensure that they are.

The full results of this multi-phased project will launch in the spring of 2019, but the initial findings are alarming. A survey conducted by Leger of those diagnosed with COPD and those at high-risk of developing it found that prior to being diagnosed, 56 per cent of patients did not know what COPD was. Among those who have experienced at least one symptom of COPD, 35 per cent did not speak to their doctor about it, and before being diagnosed, 65 per cent of patients were experiencing symptoms for at least one year. Among those who have experienced any COPD symptoms, only 44 per cent had a spirometry test to investigate the symptoms further – spirometry, a pulmonary function test, is thought to be the gold standard in diagnosing COPD.

The initial findings show that more awareness around COPD, including its risk factors and symptoms, is a gap that needs to be filled. Those who have smoked in the past, or currently smoke, and are over 40 years of age are at high-risk of developing COPD and should speak with their healthcare provider, especially if they are experiencing any of its symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing or heavy phlegm. Empowering patients to speak up as soon as symptoms arise can ensure they are not only getting diagnosed better and faster, but put on the right course of treatment faster, which can help slow the progression of this disease.

The final outcomes of Helping the Missing Million, which includes a national and provincial scorecard, will allow The Lung Association to better shape an environment that will support improved diagnosis and treatment for those living with COPD.


"We are excited to be partnering with Boehringer Ingelheim on Helping the Missing Million, which will give us more insight into the barriers that are preventing people from being diagnosed with COPD, and once diagnosed, discover what the challenges are in getting them the best treatment possible." – The Lung Association's Public Policy Advisory Group.

"I am thrilled to see work being done to better understand what we can do to better diagnose and treat those living with COPD. Lack of awareness and timely diagnosis are big concerns preventing some with COPD from getting the treatment they need to slow the progression of this disease.  It is great to see this is being addressed." – Dr. Andrea Gershon, Scientist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Member of the Helping the Missing Million Project Advisory.

"We are pleased to partner with The Lung Association on this important initiative - which will help us to work toward the shared goal of ensuring people with COPD have the right tools to be diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively. These research findings will help us to identify barriers to optimal COPD care for patients, and together with policy-makers, we can create an action plan that ensures the best outcomes for the patient – who is at the center of all that we do." - Richard Mole, President & CEO, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.

About The Lung Association

The Lung Association is dedicated to helping all Canadians breathe. Our community of donors, patients, researchers, volunteers and professional staff work to ensure Canadians have healthy lungs, bodies and clean air necessary to breathe. We achieve this by promoting healthy breathing, supporting those living with lung disease and finding future solutions. All of this is done with the goal of delivering a future of better breathing for all.

SOURCE Ontario Lung Association

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Last Updated: 05-Dec-2018