Approximately 400,000 people are affected in Switzerland
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is second only to bronchial asthma as the most common lung disease in Switzerland. Experts estimate that COPD will be the third leading cause of death in 2020.
Despite this, COPD is given little public attention in contrast to cancer, cardiovascular diseases or diabetes. This is in part because smoking is the leading risk factor for the development of COPD and patients are often stigmatized. To make matters worse, affected patients often consult their doctor too late, as the symptoms (coughing, sputum, shortness of breath during exercise) often develop gradually and are not recognized as a disease.
Treatment: from quitting smoking to lung transplantation
A priority of the Department of Pulmonology is to provide COPD patients with optimal therapy at every stage of the disease. This ranges from help with quitting smoking to (in rare, end-stage cases) surgical procedures.
The fundamental basis for treatment is to help the patient stop smoking completely. Depending on the extent to which the bronchial tubes have narrowed, inhaled medications are predominantly used to complement the therapy. Specific physical training programs (pulmonary rehabilitation) are also highly effective in reducing shortness of breath and improving quality of life. Continuous oxygen therapy is necessary in the more advanced stages of the disease.
Invasive treatment options for late-stage COPD include lung volume reduction surgery and lung transplantation. With lung volume reduction surgery, the hyperinflated damaged parts of the lung are removed. This can either be accomplished surgically (operative) or via bronchoscopy (the insertion of bronchial valves or coils). An individually suitable method is selected on the basis of the type of emphysema, any concomitant diseases and the patient's wishes.
Lung transplantations are only performed on selected patients with end-stage COPD.