NPS MedicineWise has launched an education campaign for health professionals and consumers on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which affects more than 1 in 20 Australians over 55.

COPD is a lung condition that makes it difficult to breathe and in 2014 was the fifth leading cause of death in Australia.

As part of the education program, health professionals will receive an update on diagnostic issues and optimal use of medicines for COPD to help people manage their symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.

NPS MedicineWise medical adviser Dr Andrew Boyden said correct use of inhalers is a key focus of the education and awareness campaign.

COPD is characterised by shortness of breath, a repetitive cough and increased mucus production in the airways.

“In the past the condition was known by different names including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. This has been replaced by an umbrella term – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD,” said Dr Boyden.

“Becoming breathless when climbing stairs can be one of the first signs that a person may have COPD. Other symptoms can include a persistent phlegmy cough.”

Spirometry is the gold standard for diagnosis of COPD and assists in differentiating people with COPD from those with asthma, he said.

Health professionals can access learning activities and resources on the disease from the NPS MedicineWise website.

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