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The COPD review – taking a holistic approach in primary care

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can leave Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can leave people with the condition short of calories and essential nutrients

Chronic obstructive airways disease (COPD) is a condition which carries significant morbidity and mortality, particularly for people at the more severe end of the spectrum.1 Once the diagnosis has been made, people will be monitored for any worsening of symptoms, deterioration in lung function, and increased frequency of exacerbations. However, there is another key risk for people with COPD, especially as the disease becomes more severe, and that is the potential for weight loss, malnutrition and cachexia.2 With the focus on COPD being mainly on pulmonary rehabilitation, smoking cessation and inhaled therapy, it’s easy to overlook the fact that at least a fifth of people with COPD are at risk of suffering from malnutrition.3

In this article we consider:

  • Why COPD increases the risk of malnutrition
  • How malnutrition impacts on people with COPD
  • The role of the general practice nurse in monitoring for malnutrition
  • How people with COPD and malnutrition can be supported in primary care

Case study: James age 77, severe COPD


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