World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day

October 27, 2020

November 18 is World COPD Day. This year’s theme is Living Well with COPD: Everybody, Everywhere.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to progressive, incurable lung diseases (e.g., emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, etc.). Common implications of COPD include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chronic cough, wheezing and chest tightness.

Did You Know?

  • By 2030, COPD will be the third leading cause of death worldwide.1
  • Employees with COPD use more health care, are absent from work longer, are disabled longer and are less productive.
  • The indirect costs of COPD are high and only likely to grow. 2
  • Air pollution is responsible for 43% of COPD cases. 3

COPD and the Pandemic

Those with COPD are more susceptible to severe COVID-19 complications if they become infected with the virus, putting them at higher risk as a vulnerable population. In addition, people with COPD can also be impacted by disruptions to routine care.4

What Employers Can Do

The main risk factors for COPD include tobacco smoking, indoor or outdoor air pollution or exposure to occupational dust and chemicals. All of these can be controlled, making COPD a preventable condition. Because a leading cause of COPD globally is tobacco use, companies should encourage employees to quit or avoid using tobacco.

  • Establish global corporate policies limiting or eliminating tobacco use – and thus exposure –at work.
  • Promote tobacco cessation efforts by providing access to support tools [e.g., nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), medication, quit lines, counseling, etc.].
  • Ensure access to virtual solutions. Telemedicine helps prevent a disruption in care when going to the doctor’s office is not possible. Virtual counseling through mental health providers and EAP counselors provide addiction support.
  • Some companies send out to employees local resources that outline pollution levels and daily air quality ratings. An example of such a resource is Air Quality Index Visual Map.

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  1. Did You Know?
  2. COPD and the Pandemic
  3. What Employers Can Do