There is a great deal of room for improvement in COPD care in Europe, and current trends suggest the following developments are possible and desirable.
- More accurate data on illness, exacerbations, natural history, cost and deaths, particularly in eastern Europe, will provide a stronger foundation for fighting COPD.
- Studies of the effectiveness of current prevention, education, medication, rehabilitation and terminal care will help to spread best practice and drive higher standards of COPD care.
- New therapeutic modalities will inhibit the decline in lung function.
- As smoking remains the key risk factor for COPD, several measures will reduce the burden of disease: more effective smoking cessation interventions and techniques to prevent people from starting to smoke; better surveillance of harmful occupational exposures; and protection in early childhood against harmful exposure and events that affect the lung.
- Governments, industry and the general public need to be made aware of the high burden of COPD in Europe. European countries should implement common strategies for effective prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this disabling and life-threatening disease.