This study was the first regional research on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, and was published in Respiratory Medicine Medical Journal in December 2012.
The study was conducted in 11 countries in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and UAE) in order to estimate the prevalence and burden of COPD.
The study suggests that more than 13 million people in MEA suffer from COPD secondary to cigarette smoking. This number seems conservative given that other risk factors such as waterpipe smoking or exposure to burning biomass fuel were not considered in the calculation. The prevalence estimate also appears to be the tip of the iceberg as the proportion of subjects at risk of COPD is over 30%, representing a potential ‘waiting room’ for the disease.
The BREATHE Study demonstrated that the prevalence rate in UAE is as high as 1.9% in the population aged 40 years and above. The overall prevalence in the 11 countries is 3.6% which is almost similar to the proportion of the population who have asthma or chronic heart failure and 10 times higher than the proportion with epilepsy in the same age group. Until now, little information has been available concerning the prevalence of COPD in MEA, and the true extent of the disease burden in this region has been largely unrecognised.
A number of important findings emerge from this Study that will have a significant impact on the management of COPD in the MEA region over the coming years. The study revealed that less than 10% of treatment use is compliant with current treatment guidelines (e.g. GOLD).
Furthermore, the health economic burden of managing the disease is huge; a total of 1,000 consultations, 190 emergency visits and 175 hospitalisations per hour are attributable to COPD across the 11 countries where the study was conducted.
According to Professors Ashraf AlZaabi&BassamMahboub from the BREATHE Study Steering Committee, ‘this study has for the first time quantified the true burden of COPD, both in terms of its societal cost and the impact the disease has on patients and their families in the region.
The Study revealed that many patients are poorly informed about COPD and its management and much can be done to improve disease education. Thirty percent of patients are not sure of the underlying cause of their disease, while 50% do not acknowledge smoking as a potential cause. More worryingly, 65% of those patients diagnosed with COPD are still smoking on a regular basis.