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Journal Chest: March news briefs


New research shows that one in four patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who are hospitalized with acute exacerbations may have pulmonary embolism (PE). Researchers from British Columbia analyzed data from five studies (sample size = 550 patients) that met strict inclusion criteria, including a report of the estimated prevalence of PE during exacerbations of COPD. Overall, the prevalence of PE was 19.9 percent, but this increased to 24.7 percent in patients with COPD who were hospitalized for acute exacerbations. The prevalence of venous thromboembolism risk factors also was higher among patients requiring hospitalization compared with patients treated in the emergency department. Researchers conclude that clinicians should consider PE in the diagnostic workup of COPD exacerbations, especially in the presence of additional PE risk factors. This study is published in the March issue of the journal CHEST.


The association between depression and mortality already has been shown in patients with uncontrolled chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, a new study shows that patients with stable COPD who show significant signs of depression also may have an increased risk of mortality. Researchers from the Netherlands assessed depression symptoms in 121 patients with stable COPD and followed the patients for 8.5 years. Results showed that depression nearly doubled (odds ratio = 1.93) the risk of mortality in these patients, independent of gender, older age, and lower exercise capacity. This study is published in the March issue of the journal CHEST.


Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may benefit from breathing a mixture of helium and oxygen, rather than natural air, during pulmonary rehabilitation. In a new study, researchers at the University of Calgary analyzed how breathing helium-hyperoxia (60 percent helium and 40 percent oxygen) would affect exercise tolerance in patients with COPD undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation. During pulmonary rehabilitation, 19 patients with COPD breathed helium-hyperoxia and 19 patients breathed natural air. Results showed that patients in the helium-hyperoxia group had increased intensity and duration of exercise training and decreased leg discomfort compared with patients who breathed natural air. Researchers conclude that additional research is needed to determine whether helium-hyperoxia is a practical and economical intervention for pulmonary rehabilitation. This study is published in the March issue of the journal CHEST.


Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
American College of Chest Physicians

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