A new study has highlighted the personal and financial impact chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can have on the working population.

Authors of the Novartis-funded study say the findings, which have been presented at the European Respiratory Society congress in Amsterdam, provide new perspectives on the personal and social impact the condition can have on the 45–65 year age group. Some 2,426 respondents participated in the survey across in six countries.

80% reported they were unable to maintain the same lifestyle as before, while one in four described being unable to care for their children or family as they usually would. Around one in five felt they were a burden to their family and friends.

Over half felt they went out and visited people less, with a similar number of respondents (52%) reporting that their cough (a persistent symptom of COPD) was embarrassing when they were in public. 41% reported being unable to plan for their future, with over a third of respondents (37%) reporting their total household income had decreased as a result of their condition.

Monica Fletcher, chief executive of education for health, chair of the European Lung Foundation and lead author of the research  said: “COPD is one of the leading causes of morbidity in Europe and death from the disease has doubled over the last three decades". She added that "it is clear from our findings that many people do not feel able to maintain their usual lifestyle whilst coping with the disease".

Ms Fletcher went on to say that "in addition to having a severe impact on a person’s quality-of-life, the loss of activity within this productive age group can have a serious economic impact at a societal level". She called for greater access to smoking cessation programmes, "earlier diagnosis and appropriate management strategies to control the condition and arrest disease progression".