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Exacerbations in COPD: One thing leads to another
Date:2/19/2009

New research shows that individual exacerbations in chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) themselves increase the likelihood of repeat exacerbations, even after five days of full, asymptomatic recoverybad news for patients with COPD, where each exacerbation can drive the progression of the disease.

"This concept that exacerbations are not random has important implication for the analysis of clinical trial data and identifies a specific high-risk period for recurrent exacerbation during which preventative interventions might be targeted," wrote lead author, John Hurst, M.D., of the Royal Free and University College Medical School, in London.

The results appeared in the first issue for March of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, a publication of the American Thoracic Society.

In patients with COPD, exacerbations are generally defined as an acute worsening of symptoms. Exacerbations in and of themselves are inherently dangerous and can lead to hospitalization and serious complications. But beyond their acute dangers, exacerbations drive lung function decline, and many patients never recover their baseline level of lung function after exacerbations. Prior to this research, however, exacerbations were assumed to be isolated events unrelated to one another despite observational data that suggested a dependency.

To test the validity of this assumption, which not only informs treatment plans for patients with COPD, but also forms the basis of research design and analysis, Dr. Hurst and colleagues analyzed daily symptom diaries that were kept for at least one year by 297 COPD patients, describing nearly 2,000 distinct exacerbation events. Two or more new or worsening symptoms, one of which must be "major" (e.g., dyspnea, more sputum, or a change in color of sputum) constituted an exacerbation, and after five days of symptoms reverting to baseline severity, the exacerbation was considered to be o
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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