Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Patients who suffer from COPD may experience changes in their symptoms with the rising temperatures and increased humidity, including an increase in breathlessness. GPs should work with patients with COPD to develop an action plan, maintain hydration, avoid the heat and sun, stay cool, and exercise safely 25. GPs could also help patients ensure they have adequate supply of puffers if they have difficulty accessing the pharmacy.
Advice for GPs
GPs can review the RACGP endorsed COPD-X Concise Guide, published by the Lung Foundation Australia. This resource covers five areas of clinical practice for COPD in Australia:
- case finding and confirming diagnosis
- optimising function
- preventing deterioration
- developing a plan of care
- management exacerbations.
You could consider implementing a review of COPD patients in advance of the summer months to ensure the management of the condition is optimised. This may also include consideration of COPD management, including exacerbations, during a heatwave or other emergency, and communicating with patients how you will support them.
The Lung Foundation Australia website has a range of resources available to GPs, including information on the various COPD conditions, management of COPD, networking with other medical practitioners, education and advice on managing in hot weather.
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and RACGP National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People includes information on respiratory health for COPD. This guide provides clinical recommendations around immunisation, screening, behavioural, chemo-prophylaxis and environmental interventions.