In the context that one major purpose of a staging system is to establish prognosis, attention has focused on the value of including weight (ie, body mass index [BMI]), dyspnea, and exercise capacity (ie, the 6-minute walk distance), with FEV 1 in staging COPD. 19 Indeed, the resultant index, called BODE (for BMI, obstruction, dyspnea, and exercise capacity) has been shown to better predict survival in COPD than FEV 1 alone. BODE scores of 0 to 10 (most impaired) are stratified into 4 quartiles, which discriminate mortality risk better than FEV 1 alone. Other multifactorial prognostic systems (eg, ADO [for age, dyspnea, and obstruction] and DOSE [for dyspnea, obstruction, smoking, and exercise capacity]) have also been proposed. 20,21
5. Thinking a written prescription for a COPD inhaler means
the patient knows when to use it: The drug's purpose.
For treatment purposes all inhalers for COPD & asthma fall into one of
two broad categories:
a) to provide quick relief ('rescue inhalers') and
b) to improve chronic symptoms and prevent flareups ('maintenance inhalers'). Examples of rescue inhalers are albuterol (brand names Proventil HFA, ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA) and ipratropium bromide (brand name Atrovent). Combivent contains a combination of albuterol and ipratropium bromide. Maintenance inhalers include any inhaled steroid (IS), either alone (brand names Azmacort, Qvar, Pulmicort, etc.) or in combination with a 'long acting bronchodilator' (LABD; brand names Symbicort, Advair). PROBLEM: The SAME type of delivery device (size, shape, mechanism of action) is commonly used for both rescue and maintenance inhalers. For example, as shown below, ProAir HFA (a rescue inhaler, on left) and Symbicort (a maintenance inhaler, on right) both come packaged as pressurized metered dose inhalers, and both are deep red in color. There is nothing intuitive about this. For a patient who may have both inhalers (quite common), and who becomes short of breath, it is all too easy to forget which is which.
"In sharp contrast to the leading clinical guidelines, the vast majority of patients hospitalized for acute exacerbation of COPD were initially treated with high doses of corticosteroids administered intravenously," conclude study researchers led by Peter K. Lindenauer, MD, of Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass. This practice is not associated with "any measurable benefit and at the same time exposes patients to the risks and inconvenience of an intravenous line, potentially unnecessarily high doses of steroids, greater hospital costs, and longer lengths of stay."