COPD accounts for 6% of all deaths globally with 90% of death cases being identified in developing countries. The global prevalence (total number of patients) of COPD is increasing particularly among those aged 30 years and above. It is also worth noting that COPD is more common among city folks compared with rural dwellers. More importantly, the progressive nature of the disease and the physical limitations imposed by the disease can significantly affect employability among urbanites.
The hallmark of COPD is the persistent inflammation in the lungs which results in tissue damage. The process of thickening and scarring of the small airways is due to repeated injury and tissue repair. As the disease progresses, inflammatory response as well as airway remodelling (through tissue repair) will worsen, leading to progressive airway narrowing consequently causing airflow obstruction. This prevents air from effectively leaving the lungs. This damage to the lungs is associated with symptoms such as:
The progressive decline in lung function may lead to episodes of disease flare known as exacerbations. The disease at its end-stage is characterized by:
The abnormal inflammatory response associated with COPD is commonly triggered by:
Nevertheless, the risk of COPD development is a result of complex interaction between these external stimuli and genetic factors. The best documented genetic risk factor is a severe hereditary deficiency of alpha-1 antitrypsin (a known major inhibitor of serine proteases).
The progression of COPD can be slowed by reducing the exposure to noxious stimuli. It is therefore important for you to learn and to avoid the triggers for COPD in order to prevent ‘flare-ups’. The following are some useful lifestyle advices:
Pay attention to your symptoms and seek immediate medical attention in any of the following events:
In collaboration with Dosing Health.
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