Study highlights impact of COVID-19 lockdown on people living with COPD

A summary of research published in ERJ Open Research

A new study has looked at the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the UK. The pandemic has led to many countries introducing strict measures, or lockdowns, to keep people at home to prevent the spread of the virus. Researchers in this study aimed to understand what impact these measures have had on the flare up, or exacerbation, of symptoms and the wellbeing of people living with COPD.

What did the study look at?

160 people with COPD were included in the study. Researchers collected information about the number of exacerbations they experienced. They did this for the first 6 weeks of lockdown in 2020 in the UK and compared this to the same period in 2019. They found out whether an exacerbation had happened by recording the treatments each person received. The participants took place in a telephone survey to look at any changes in how they were feeling, stress and anxiety levels, use of inhalers, levels of physical activity and behaviour during the lockdown period and compared to normal.

What do the results show?

COPD exacerbations that were treated in the community (not in hospital) increased during the first 6 weeks of the lockdown period, compared to the year before. People also reported increased levels of anxiety, reductions in physical activity and reductions in the number of visitors at people’s homes, during the lockdown period. There was also an increase in people taking their prescribed inhalers.

Why is this important?

The researchers believe that changes in daily life, such as increased levels of anxiety and reduced physical activity, could explain the increased number of exacerbations seen in this study. The authors believe the findings of the paper can be used as a reminder that it is important for healthcare professionals to understand a person’s behaviour and lifestyle changes when treating their condition.

Read the original research paper

Title: COPD in the time of COVID-19: An analysis of acute exacerbations and reported behavioural changes in patients with COPD

Further information