27 June 2012
‘Awareness low on spirometry’
Study Says 93% In City Ignorant Of Crucial Lung Function Test
Pune: Only 7% of Puneites are aware about spirometry, a lung function test that plays a crucial role in timely detection of progressive respiratory illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, a survey has said. Conducted in 24 cities across the country, including Pune, the survey’s results show the dismal state of awareness about spirometry in the country.
As opposed to this, 97% of the people surveyed in Pune were aware about sonography and 88% knew what electrocardiograms were (ECG).
"According to the questionnaire–based survey conducted last week by the Chest Research Foundation (CRF), 89% of Indians had never heard of spirometry," said physician Monica Barne of the CRF. The three–day survey was conducted in major cities in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West
Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
"In contrast almost 70% of the respondents knew what an ECG is. This is despite the fact that the number of patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases (asthma and COPD), is much more than those with diabetes, heart diseases and strokes put together, according to a report published in a leading medical journal in India," said chest physician Sundeep Salvi, founder–director of CRF.
Barne said,"In the survey, about 51% were aware of sonography, but were unaware about spirometry. Considering that nearly 26% of these people were smokers, almost 16% had chronic breathlessness and chronic coughs, and 12% had wheezes, spirometry would have helped all of them immensely. Even among those who were diagnosed patients of asthma or COPD, only about 53% had heard about spirometry."
About half a million people die every year due to COPD in India, which is over four times the number in USA and Europe.
According to a report published by the Maharashtra State Health Resource Centre in March 2010, COPD is the leading cause of death in the state, causing more deaths than ischemic heart disease, stroke and diabetes together.
A report published by the National Centre for Macroeconomics and Health puts the estimated economic loss due to COPD in India at around Rs 35,000 crore. This is higher than the total budget of the ministry of health and family welfare of India, which during 2010–11 was Rs 25,154 crore.
Awareness about the technique is low even among doctors."Spirometry is poorly taught in medical colleges. Hence most doctors believe that it is not an essential test," Salvi said.
Doctors also continue to believe that spirometry is expensive, difficult to conduct and that its interpretation requires special expertise. It is actually as easy to conduct and interpret as an ECG and sonography, he added.THE SURVEY
- he three–day study was a questionnaire–based survey
- Respondents were asked simple questions, such as whether they had respiratory symptoms, a history of smoking and if they had been diagnosed with asthma or COPD. They were also asked if they had heard about ECG, sonography or spirometry and if they had ever had their spirometry done.
- Questionnaires were administered to laypersons at bus stands, near temples, amongst acquaintances, outside pharmacies and hospitals, and on telephone.
- Pune numbers: 97% were aware of sonography, 88% knew about ECG. Only 7% know about spirometry.