you're reading...

Women & COPD

The rate of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) in women is on the rise. A report released by the American Lung Association in June 2013 noted that women are 37 percent more likely to have COPD than men, and women now account for more than half of all deaths attributed to COPD in the United States.

According to Dr. Dennis E. Doherty, MD, FCCP, professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the Lexington VA Medical Center and the University of Kentucky, research has shown that women are more susceptible than men to tobacco smoke, which is one of the primary causes of COPD. Other studies show women are often misdiagnosed with asthma rather than COPD.

Although smoking tobacco is the largest risk factor of COPD, Dr. Doherty says other risk factors for women can be secondhand smoke and also breathing in biomass fuels. “This is more of a problem in some areas of the world where women cook with coal or straw. They are in an environment (where) these biomass fuels are inhaled both day and night because it’s also their source of heat,” he explains.

Additionally, there is a genetic predisposition for COPD that causes a deficiency of Alpha 1-antitrypsin, a protein that protects the lungs from certain enzymes which, if left unchecked, can break down healthy lung tissue. According to Dr. Doherty, a large number of people in North Eastern Kentucky have this genetic predisposition.

Dr. Doherty says an early symptom of COPD is a chronic cough with phlegm/mucus production. However, many patients will not present until they have shortness of breath at rest or with minimal exertion, a point when on average, half their lung function is already gone. “Shortness of breath with more vigorous activities may not indicate that they are out of shape, but rather could be a sign that they have early COPD, which the time we need to intervene – earlier, before they progress to more severe disease,” Dr. Doherty explains.

COPD is usually diagnosed using a test called spirometry, where the patient takes as deep a breath as they can, and then exhales as hard as they can for as long as they can. Dr. Doherty explains that what they blow out in the first second is called FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second), and the total of air they blow out is FVC (forced vital capacity). The diagnosis is then determined by the ratio of FEV1/FVC. A ratio of less than 70 percent is a sign of COPD.

The first treatment for COPD is for the patient to stop smoking, which is not easy to do. “It’s harder to stop smoking than it is to stop addiction to alcohol or heroin – it’s been shown that there’s a higher relapse rate for smoking,” Dr. Doherty says.

The first line medicines in COPD, says Dr. Doherty, are those which maximize broncho-dilation (open up the airways) – they are called bronchodilators. There are two different classes of these medications – long-acting anticholinergics such as tiotropium, and beta-2 agonists such as formoterol, salmeterol, and indacaterol. If a patient’s symptoms worsen and they have frequent flares, Dr. Doherty says an inhaled corticosteroid may be added.

Non-pharmacological therapies include pulmonary rehabilitation, where patients are taught all about COPD, proper breathing techniques, and the importance of exercising, nutrition and vaccinations.

Dr. Doherty says complications that can arise in patients with COPD normally come as acute exacerbations of their symptoms – or “flares” – and can lead to hospitalization. Additionally, COPD patients are at a higher risk for lung cancer, largely because of their smoking history.

As for prevention, Dr. Doherty says the biggest measure women can take is to not start smoking. Although the rate of smoking in the United States is declining, and a number of communities in Kentucky have gone smoke-free, the rate of smoking in younger women is still high.

Another prevention measure is to get diagnosed earlier. “COPD is now thought to be a disease that can be diagnosed earlier during the course of the disease with spirometry testing,” Dr. Doherty says. “With proper therapy, COPD is partially reversible, so there is optimism.”

by Corrie Pelc



5 thoughts on “Women & COPD

  1. Simply want to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is just nice and i can assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep updated with
    forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up
    the enjoyable work.

    Posted by stethoscope with bell | August 22, 2014, 11:49 pm
  2. (MUST READ)
    I am Alexes Hayden, i purchased chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD/Emphysema) herbal remedy from a herbal health clinic in South Africa (NewLife Herbal clinic), it really helped me. I was diagnosed of COPD in Elisabeth-bruyère Hospital Ottawa Canada in August 2014. In June 2016, I had COPD exacerbation, my condition worsened and the doctors could not help me, the Flovent HFA and antibiotics prescribed stopped working, it was a terrible experience i had, so my wife reached out for an alternative treatment. My wife’s co-worker who had initially bought pulmonary fibrosis herbal remedy from New Life herbal clinic referred us to them for help. We contacted them via their website and purchased the COPD herbal remedy, i immediately commenced usage as soon as i received it, it worked miraculously, my airways are repaired. Visit www(dot)newlifeherbalclinic(dot)weebly(dot)com or email newlifeherbalclinic(at)gmail(dot)com

    (Please write email/website in right format)
    I did promised i will post my experience as many forums as possible if i am cured

    Posted by Alexess | January 3, 2017, 12:56 pm
  3. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 37. My father had it, so I don’t know if it’s my luck or heredity. My first problem was fine motor skills, especially writing. After five years of waiting, I saw a neurologist who confirmed my fears. I was immediately started on Sinemet. All of this was 22 years ago. I will be 59 in a few days. I have had good luck with the Sinemet and other meds like Mirapex, but I was extremely tired of it. I have also noticed cognitive decline, but that is also related to a now-removed brain tumor.i had to look for an alternative treatment. I read in a health forum of a herbal clinic in Johannesburg who has a successful treatment to P.D, i immediately contacted the herbal clinic via their website www . Healthherbalclinic . weebly . com and purchased the parkinson’s herbal formula. I received the parkinson’s herbal treatment via courier and immediately commenced usage, i only used the herbal remedy for 7 weeks all my symptoms were unbelievably reversed, i did another series of test i was confirmed free of parkinson’s

    Posted by Bonnie Blum | March 14, 2017, 7:40 am
  4. I have been diagnosed with COPD for over 12 years. My principal symptom has been a heavy feeling in the chest. I cannot breathe well while lying flat on my back or on my right side. I have recently had a very major reduction in these symptoms having been prescribed cefdinir for a diagnosis of an upper respiratory viral infection last 4 months. I am only writing this to inform others that nothing was really working to help my condition.I started on Emphysema herbal formula i ordered from Health Herbal Clinic,i read alot of reviews from other previous patients who used the herbal formula, my symptoms totally declined over a 5 weeks use of the COPD natural herbal formula. i am now doing very well, all my symptoms completely faded away, my lungs are totally repaired!! Visit there website www. healthherbalclinic. net or email Info@ healthherbalclinic. net

    Posted by Janice Tollis (@TollisJanice) | July 4, 2017, 6:18 am
  5. I would love you to contact :Totalcureherbalfoundation gmail. com they shall provide you all the herbal formula that can help you get rid of COPD emphysema,for the past 9 years has been a terrible years for me because i was diagnosed with copd emphysema,i’m 59 and and fully cure of copd by Total cure herbal foundation which i found on-line,my condition was very bad which i have been currently on 24/7 oxygen, nebulizer, pro air.,early this year during my research on Google i found this herbal foundation which someone posted on how they help her with emphysema disease so i decided to email them also and they gave me all the steps which i did properly,the herbal medicine aims to return the body to a state of natural balance, so that it can start healing itself,email them now to stop your nightmare.
    Totalcureherbalfoundation gmail .com

    Posted by olivia carter (@oliviac27296263) | November 24, 2017, 9:00 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: