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Lung Disease More Severe In Women Than Men

eral muscles, cardiovascular system, and overall nutritional status--it's a multi-systemic disease. If we only measure respiratory function we will be overlooking other organ impairment and then will miss an opportunity for intervention." Understanding that COPD can affect many aspects of a patient's health gives doctors more tools to treat patients, Dr. Cote said. "Traditionally, doctors have just looked at airflow obstruction, which doesn't respond well to drug treatment and has the tendency to deteriorate as a person ages, so the disease has seemed poorly treatable and minimally reversible. But by doing a comprehensive assessment, looking at a patient's nutritional status, exercise capacity and symptoms, it becomes more possible to treat COPD because such impairment is amenable to intervention."
br> For example, she said, there are now two long-acting bronchodilators that have been shown to improve not only lung function but also exercise capacity, symptoms, health status and lung hyperinflation in COPD patients. Non-drug interventions such as pulmonary rehabilitation can also improve some of these outcomes and improve survival, while surgery such as lung volume reduction and lung transplantation greatly help selected patients while prolonging their lives. "We should see COPD as a treatable disease and be aggressive in the management of our patients. Maybe then we'll be able to impact survival," she said. "COPD no longer has to be seen as a chronic, relentless, and fatal disease--we can help patients live longer with better quality of life."
br> This message is important for women in particular, Dr. Cote said. "Women's life expectancy is on average seven years longer than men's, so women who are living with a chronic illness like COPD will bear a heavier burden of disease compared with men."
br> There is a growing awareness that COPD is treatable, and that there are tools to assess how patients are doing on many levels, Dr. Cote said. "Physici
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