11. February 2019  |  News

One third of OAT-patients affected by COPD

The life expectancy of persons undergoing opioid agonist therapy (OAT) has increased significantly. As a result, the medical care of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart or respiratory diseases is becoming increasingly important - but little is known so far about their prevalence and burden in older OAT patients.

A study carried out at Arud in collaboration with the University of Zurich has now addressed the question of the proportion of people in OAT treatment affected by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The results of the study by Thomas Grischott1, Luis Falcato2, Oliver Senn1, Milo Puhan3 and Philip Bruggmann2 have now been published in the renowned journal Addiction.

Almost one third affected by COPD

The results: Of the 119 study participants, almost one third (30.3%) were diagnosed with COPD. In addition, men aged 30-59 had more than twice as much (2.4 times) breathing restriction as the smoking Swiss population in the same age group.

Great willingness to change lifestyle

Tobacco smoking (92.0%) and inhalation of substances (cannabis: 97.6%, cocaine: 69.6%, heroin: 68.0%) were very common among all participants. The participants showed great interest in changing their lifestyle and using therapeutic offers for COPD management: Most interest was shown in pharmacological treatment to alleviate COPD symptoms, while only one fifth of tobacco smokers considered quitting smoking.

Diagnostic spirometry for people in OAT aged 40 and older

In patients undergoing OAT treatment, several risk factors are virtually omnipresent and the overall prevalence of COPD is high. Screenings would make it possible to identify affected patients at a relatively young age and thus at an early stage of COPD. Diagnostic spirometry should therefore ideally be performed on all new OAT patients aged 40 and over. In addition, patients who show interest in COPD self-management or a specific lifestyle change should receive appropriate support.

1 Institute for Family Medicine, University of Zurich
2 Arud Centre for Addiction Medicine
3 Institute for Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich