Al Alam, MD Reviews COPD in the Treatment of Psychiatric Patients

November 13, 2014 - Al Alam, MD was the lead author of a chapter on chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) in Preventive Medical Care in Psychiatry: A Practical Guide for Clinicians, recently published by American Psychiatric Publishing, the publishing arm of the American Psychiatric Association.

COPD, which comprises chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a leading cause of death and disability and an important driver of health care costs worldwide. Although people with severe mental illness are at significantly higher risk for COPD, it is often not diagnosed until its late stages when symptoms become apparent. Dr. Alam and his co-authors recommend screening for COPD in psychiatric patients who have respiratory symptoms and a history of risk factors, the most significant of which is smoking. Smoking cessation is the most important therapeutic intervention for COPD.

In their section on Special Treatment Considerations for the Psychiatric Patient Population, Dr. Alam and colleagues note that many patients with severe psychiatric disorders do not receive preventive medical intervention and have chronic medical problems that are underdiagnosed and undertreated. They provide a detailed list of considerations doctors should keep in mind when prescribing medications for mentally ill patients with COPD and conclude with a list of resources for patients and clinicians.

Dr. Alam, who is the Clinical Director of the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program at Stony Brook University, is board certified in Psychiatry and Internal Medicine. Xixi Wong, MD and  R. Michael Huijon, MD co-authored the chapter. Both trained with Dr. Alam as residents in the Combined Psychiatry and Family Medicine Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The publisher describes Preventive Medical Care in Psychiatry as a valuable resource in the development of models of care that integrate psychiatry with primary care.