A recent study around the global economic burden of malnutrition tied to chronic illness found that patients with COPD experience the highest rates of malnourishment. Although close to 60 percent of patients suffering from chronic illness are never screened for malnutrition, disease-associated malnutrition imposes an economic burden on society of about $157 billion per year, according to research published in a supplemental issue of the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (JPEN).
The study explains that when malnutrition goes undiagnosed, particularly in seniors, it can lead to an increase in health complications, hospital readmissions rates, and overall health care costs, which also increases health care costs. In the eight specific diseases that were evaluated by direct medical costs, the years of quality life lost, and mortality to determine the total economic burden, more than 80 percent of the total cost came from cases of depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), coronary heart disease, and dementia. Patients with COPD had the highest malnutrition rate at 11 percent.
Because patients with COPD require up to 10 times the calories needed by a patient without COPD, it is important for patients to make sure they are getting the nutrients and energy their body requires. Proper eating habits can help fight body infections and help produce the energy required to function normally. Malnutrition can be treated if the patient is screened and offered nutritional support when they are at risk. Dieticians can guide patients by working out a diet plan that recommends high calorie foods that are easy to prepare. The COPD Foundation also offers information regarding proper diet and nutrition in its Big Fat Reference Guide.
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Read the full Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (JPEN) report here.