Moscow, April 24, 2012 – within the framework of the XIX Russian National Congress “Man and Medicine”, Novartis held a symposium “In Search of the Edge between Bronchial Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” under the guidance of Academician A. G. Chuchalin.

Acute and chronic respiratory diseases in Russia averaged 40% of the total morbidity of the country’s population. The most severe of these are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchial asthma. Despite the quite definite differences between asthma and COPD on the development mechanisms, in the clinical manifestations, the principles of prevention and treatment, these two diseases have some common features. In addition, a combination of these two diseases in one patient is possible. All this creates certain difficulties in the practical work of even a well-informed doctor.  

If there is a clear definition for WHO for bronchial asthma , then COPD is still not described in exact terms. Existing uncertainty leads to an erroneous diagnosis. You should know that the main symptoms of COPD are cough, sputum, shortness of breath and wheezing during exercise.  

According to modern epidemiological studies, in Europe and North America, COPD affects 4 to 15% of the adult population. COPD is a progressive, dangerous disease that affects 210 million people on the planet. According to forecasts, by 2020, COPD will occupy the third place in the world among all causes of death.

In Russia, the situation with the diagnosis of COPD, in contrast to bronchial asthma, is quite complicated, which complicates the collection of information and makes the data less reliable. In Russia, COPD takes the 1st place in the structure of the incidence of respiratory diseases compared with bronchial asthma and pneumonia. However, the number of registered patients from year to year remains at the same level. In 2007, 2.4 million patients with COPD were registered in Russia. Moreover, the number of patients actually 11 times higher than official data.

The discrepancy is due to the fact that the disease is diagnosed in the late stages, when the steadily progressing pathological process is no longer treatable. This explains the high mortality among patients. According to the European Respiratory Society, only 25% of cases are diagnosed in a timely manner. Mortality among patients with COPD after discharge from the hospital is 43% for one year and 49% for two years.

According to experts, the different situation with the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and COPD is explained by the fact that the world and Russian medical community has already realized: asthma is a serious illness, often leading to disability of the population. In turn, the danger of COPD is underestimated, although the incidence rate is comparable to the incidence of bronchial asthma, and the consequences of COPD are much more serious.

Another problem for COPD is low public awareness of the disease. In September 2011, the results of a sociological study (AnInternational Social Observational Survey – SOS) were presented at the annual congress of the European Respiratory Society, in which more than 6,000 thousand men and women aged 18 and over from different countries took part. The survey showed that 32% of respondents do not know what COPD is, and one in ten smokers do not know that smoking is one of the main causes of COPD. The study participants put COPD on the 8th place in the ranking of the leading causes of mortality in the world, although in fact today this disease takes the 4th place and takes 3 million lives a year.

The relevance of smoking in Russia is obvious. Our country is one of the most smoking countries in the world. The proportion of smokers among the adult population is 39.1%, while the proportion of smokers is 60.2%, and the proportion of smokers is 21.7%. Smoking leads to death from cancer (33%), cardiovascular disease (29%) and COPD (28%).  

Diagnosis and treatment of bronchial asthma and COPD today are urgent health problems. Leading Russian pulmonologists note that correct early diagnosis, prevention and timely treatment of COPD can slow the progression of diseases and reduce the frequency of exacerbations. In addition, properly prescribed therapy in the early stages can reduce both direct and indirect health system costs. In this regard, the emergence in Russia of a new drug for basic treatment of COPD is a timely event.