Guidelines for Malnutrition Management in COPD Launched by British Organizations

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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Malnutrition management in COPD

A new practical guide titled “Managing Malnutrition in COPD” was recently launched by 10 key British professional and patient organizations to assist healthcare professionals in identifying and managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in patients who are at risk of malnutrition due to their respiratory condition.

The guide includes tips for the proper use of oral nutritional supplements, developed by a multidisciplinary panel of professionals to help caregivers with an interest in malnutrition in COPD.

Matthew Hodson, chairman of the Association of Resiratory Nurse Specialists, said in a press release the group was pleased to work with the team “to ensure that we are offering continuity of nutritional care for patients.”

Hodson said it’s estimated that one in five patients with COPD will be at risk of malnutrition, so it’s important to managing it for “better outcomes and quality of life for patients.”

“I think that nurses and other healthcare professionals involved in the treatment of patients with COPD will find the management pathway and the pathway for using oral nutritional supplements invaluable in assisting them in identifying and managing this treatable condition,” he said.

The initiative has also developed three complementary color-coded patient leaflets – green for low riskyellow for medium risk, and red for high risk – containing dietary advice, advice on food and physical activity, and tips on coping with common COPD symptoms, including dry mouth, taste changes, and shortness of breath.

The 10 British sponsors of the practical guide are: the Primary Care Respiratory Society UK; BAPEN, which includes the Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition Group of the British Dietetic Association (PENG); the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists (ARNS); the British Lung Foundation; the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care (ACPRC); the National Nurses Nutrition Group (NNNG); the Education for Health; the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP); the British Dietetic Association (BDA); and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

“Patients with COPD who experience weight loss and are of a low body weight will have a poorer prognosis and an increased risk of mortality. Malnourished patients have an increased risk of acute exacerbations, hospital readmission, and poor quality of life,” said Dr. Elizabeth Weekes, consultant dietitian, NIHR clinical lecturer, and BDA’s PENG representative on the guide’s expert panel.

“It is common for stable COPD patients to consume close to the recommended daily amounts for both energy and protein while at home. However, their nutritional intake is often compromised during acute exacerbations,” Weekes said. “Dietary advice to optimize oral intake is vital for these patients and for those with a low [body mass index].”

Weekes said NICE recommends the diet is supplemented with oral nutritional supplements. This guidance helps healthcare professionals identify those at risk of malnutrition and helps them implement a proper nutritional care plan, she said.

“The pathway emphasizes the importance of regular monitoring by healthcare professionals once a care plan is in place to ensure patients meet their nutritional goals,” Weekes said.