My name is Isabel Saraiva. I’m Portuguese and ex-smoker. I quit smoking in April 2006 when I was diagnosed with COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is a progressive respiratory disease characterized by the obstruction of lung airflow making breathing difficult. Prevention, which means quitting smoking and access to early diagnostic, is the most important issue for people with this Chronic Respiratory Disease.
I was lucky enough to be diagnosed without delay and I succeed in quitting smoking. I can say that my COPD is under control and I have a full, rewarding life. But I’m sure, starting with the diagnosis, that without several categories of medical devices, some of them so ordinary that almost nobody gives them a second look, my life will be completely different: breathless, dependent, depressed, without proper diagnostic and treatment.
1. What medical devices are relevant to your disease area?
As a COPD patient, the mandatory monitoring of my condition and coping with the day to day life can’t discard a diversified set of medical devices: from the sophisticated x-Ray, T-scan and spirometry machines needed to evaluate the disease progression, to the inhalers to spread medicines in my lungs, or even the humble syringes needed to take blood in order to evaluate the level of oxygen in my body. Medical devices are always there for me and each and one of them is important for my wellbeing. They provide valuable and accurate information about my health and my condition to my doctor and to me. They help to calibrate my treatment and they make my life safer and more predictable.
2. Have you seen any development in recent years in the treatment of the disease which were helpful to you?
The improvement of the drug delivery systems and the inhalation therapy, together with new and more accurate tumor markers are for sure some of the most relevant developments in the area of respiratory disease.
The development of the inhalation therapy in the last years is allowing a much more effective treatment of lung disease. I know how important they are as I use inhalers every day, in the morning and at night, in order to control my respiratory disease. Some years ago I had a sudden and without explanation worsening of my respiratory condition and the tumor markers helped in screening my lungs and providing my family and me with the comfortable certitude that I had nothing serious besides COPD.
But as a COPD patient I also have some additional diseases or comorbidities related mainly with heart condition and osteoporosis. In both conditions, from the screening to monitoring, the progress is astonishing. I screen my heart and bone condition every year, allowing me and my doctor set the right treatment, the right diet, the right dose of daily exercise. And a « Brave New World» is at my door with all the possibilities that e-health developments are bringing!
I can see myself taking blood tests at home, sending them to my doctor; I see myself monitoring my breath rate and my blood pressure and adjusting the medicines accordingly. Summing up thanks to medical devices I can live a much more independent life.
3. What initiatives to educate people about the disease have you been involved in or see, which you think might be interesting for other countries to learn from?
The main cause of COPD is smoking. Around 90% of people with COPD are ex-smokers. So the first thing is to inform and help people in order to look for the diagnostic chest X- ray and Oximetry. If the diagnostic is positive for COPD the first and most important issue is: quit smoking now!
Then if the doctor prescribes drugs delivered through inhalers, how to use and keep them are also important. That can be done through leaflets, videos or face to face meetings. If I have to sum up the relevant initiatives to educate people in the COPD area, I will say 3 words: Prevention, Diagnosis and Education.
4. If you had a wish to your government and the MedTech industry for the future, what would be?
To government: Put the patient safety in the forefront of your concerns, not allowing the reprocessing of medical devices without accurate studies related with the potential threats of this practice. Those studies must be widely publicized.
To the industry: Please go on with being innovative and keep listening to the patients and their organizations.