This year’s World COPD theme “Living Well with COPD” may sound very foreign to many patients but for a growing number of patients this is becoming a reality. COPD kills over 3 million people a year, it’s a progressive disease which has no cure.
When I was first diagnosed with COPD there was not a lot of focus on how to manage the disease so I could improve my quality of life. Nowadays the internet is full of strategies to live well with COPD, some are good some are false. Figuring out the correct advice to follow can be tricky and I’m constantly amazed by some of the information fellow patients send me which they have been told will improve their quality of life. For me there is one basic rule – follow the science! My article I authored for the European Medical Journal in 2016 title “The Four Pillars of Living Well with COPD” I believe is the perfect starting place to better manage COPD. My article is supported by science and is the cornerstone of why I’m able to still live a very active life with around 30% lung function.
Living Well with COPD will differ between patients as it will depend on your starting point. This is an important fact to keep in mind as sometimes your expectations can be disappointed if they exceed your reality. A patient with mild COPD is going to have a different outcome to a patient with severe disease. Comparing your quality of life to others will only lead to disappointment, set your own goals and aim to achieve them.
Goal setting has always been an important aspect to managing my disease and improving my quality of life. Having a goal can keep you focused on the day to day plan you have to achieve your goal. My goals have predominately been based around competing in events to the highest level I’m capable of. I don’t always achieve my goals, but my strategy continues to support my high quality of life.
My Four Pillar strategy – 1/ Knowledge 2/ Medication 3/ Nutrition 4/ Exercise are all science based and individually can improve any patient’s quality of life. They are not based on a set level; they can be adapted to your own level. Whatever your strategy is you need to make sure it’s safe, backed by science and supported by your healthcare provider. You need to be an expert on your plan and your disease.
The most important part of developing a strategy to improve your quality is to make it achievable. To improve your quality of life you have to make your plan your lifestyle. Which means it happens every day. Take your medication as prescribed, develop a healthy science-based nutrition plan and stick to it, exercise to some level every day. Movement is magic for managing your disease, but you have to be consistent.
Remember, it doesn’t matter what stage of disease you’re at having a strategy to improve your quality of life will improve your quality of life!