A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and reported by WebMD, shows a clear link between inflammation and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The study shows that COPD patients with markers of chronic inflammation in their blood are more likely to have lung disease flare-ups than patients without such inflammation.
Flare-ups, or exacerbations, are periods of worsening symptoms usually triggered by air pollution or an infection. By learning about the link between chronic inflammation and COPD, you can predict flare-ups and increase your quality of life.
According to WebMD, the study involved more than 61,000 COPD patients in Denmark. Those with increased levels of certain cells and proteins in their blood were at greater risk for more frequent flare-ups. These cells and proteins (including fibrinogen, leukocytes and C-reactive protein) increase with infections, inflammation and tissue damage.
The study found that 24 percent of COPD patients without elevated levels of these particular cells and proteins experienced flare-ups compared to 62 percent of those with high levels. The risk was greatest for those in the latest stages of COPD.
Blood Tests Can Predict COPD Flare-ups
By recognizing the association between chronic inflammation (caused by the presence of certain cells and proteins in the blood) and COPD flare-ups, it’s possible to conduct a blood test to identify these “markers” and predict future flare-ups.
The good news is that these tests are readily available, low-risk and inexpensive (insurance often covers the cost). The bad news is that doctors still aren’t sure how to proceed with the information garnered from the test. The study was unable to prove that inflammation causes flare-ups or that using medication to lower inflammation could prevent future exacerbations. Other studies are currently being performed to hopefully tie up these loose ends.
To learn more about your health, please download the free guide, “Staying Healthy with Chronic Lung Disease” from DoMoreWithOxygen.com today.