Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a range of lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
A COPD diagnosis may involve the patient having one or a combination of these conditions. It is an incurable condition which results in the narrowing of the airways making it harder to both in and exhale. It is estimated that some three million people are currently living with COPD in the UK, but that less than a third have received a diagnosis.
Smoking is the main cause of COPD with the symptoms usually presenting in current or former smokers aged 35+. However, most people are not diagnosed with the disease until they are in their fifties. Long term sufferers of severe asthma may also develop COPD.
Whilst policies may provide access to diagnostic care in relation to COPD, treatments are not typically covered by private health insurance as chronic conditions are usually managed under NHS care.
Private health insurance may cover you for the tests that are used to confirm a COPD diagnosis. These may include simple and relatively low cost tests such as spirometry in which lung capacity is measured by seeing how much air you can exhale in a single forced breath). Other test may be employed such as CT scans (computed tomography), chest x-ray and ECGs (electrocardiogram) to evaluate heart health. A peak expiratory flow test, which measures how fast you can breathe out, may be employed to rule out asthma. Similarly, your blood may be tested to see if symptoms are being caused by anaemia.
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