Study: Most COPD Patients Not Receiving PAP Therapy Despite Benefits

Modern PAP therapy has the potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs, yet most COPD patients go without.

A recent study of positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy rates for COPD patients found that more than 92 percent of patients are not receiving any form of PAP therapy, even though it can reduce rates of hospitalization.

“This study demonstrates the vast opportunity for the industry to further adopt recent innovations for COPD treatment,” said Eli Diacopoulos, VP General Manager of Philips Respironics, in a prepared statement.

The study was funded by Royal Philips and led by Sairam Parthasarathy, professor of medicine and interim chief of Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine with University of Arizona College of Medicine. Parthasarathy analyzed data for more than 1.8 million COPD patients. He found that patients receiving Bi-level (BiPAP), continuous (CPAP) or noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NIV) therapy had a lower risk of hospitalization than those not receiving PAP therapy. However, only 7.5 percent of COPD patients were receiving the therapy.

According to Parthasarathy, these findings have significant implications for patients and the health care system. “With improved awareness and implementation of PAP therapy as a treatment for COPD, we can lower the cost burden for health systems while allowing patients to recover in the comfort of their own homes,” he said in a prepared statement.

Diacopoulos said that many clinicians are not informed about the latest COPD treatment methods, adding that “technologies, machines and even masks have advanced significantly since PAP therapy was first introduced.”

The study also found that patients with multiple chronic medical conditions, including sleep apnea, chronic respiratory failure and heart failure, combined with COPD, showed greater benefits from PAP therapy. However, further study is needed to establish a causal connection between PAP therapy and reduced readmission rates for COPD patients. 

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a freelance writer covering a variety of industries. She can be reached via email at leilameyer@gmail.com or on the web at leilameyer.com.

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