New online tool predicts trajectory of lung disease (Dr. Don Sin)

The head of respiratory medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital has helped develop an online risk-assessment that predicts which patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, will decline rapidly.

COPD, most often the result of smoking, is the No. 1 cause of hospital admissions from a chronic illness in Canada, and costs B.C. an estimated $600 million a year. It reduces lung capacity, leaving about 13 per cent of Canadians over 35 short of breath.

Dr. Don Sin worked with a group of researchers from B.C., the U.S., Sweden and the Netherlands to develop the tool that’s described in this month’s Canadian Medical Association Journal. It allows doctors to enter information about the patient — age, weight, results from a basic lung function test — which is used to estimate lung deterioration in coming years.

Erin Ellis reports

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