COPD World News - 2018

COPD World News - Week of December 30, 2018

Daily Aspirin may reduce COPD exacerbations

Baltimore, Maryland - Taking a daily aspirin was linked to reduced COPD exacerbations, less shortness of breath, and better quality of life, an analysis of the ongoing SPIROMICS study found. At 3 years follow-up, aspirin users were less likely to have acute COPD exacerbations (adjusted incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.78, 95% CI 0.65-0.94) compared with non-users, with a similar effect seen for moderate acute COPD exacerbations (IRR 0.86, 95% CI 0.63-1.18), according to Ashraf Fawzy, MD, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues. The association was strongest among study participants reporting symptoms of chronic bronchitis at enrollment, as reported in the journal CHEST. Aspirin use has been associated with reduced mortality in previous studies, but the newly published investigation is among the first to examine the impact of daily aspirin therapy on respiratory morbidity in COPD. Preliminary data from this study were presented earlier this year at the American Thoracic Society annual conference. "The reduced incidence of total and moderate acute COPD exacerbations among aspirin users was independent of concurrent respiratory or cardiovascular medication use and robust when analyzing the entire follow-up period, limiting the analysis to the first year of follow-up, and across all sensitivity analyses," the authors wrote. Aspirin use was also associated with lower total scores on the St. George Respiratory Questionnaire (β -2.2, 95% CI -4.1 to -0.4); reduced odds of moderate-to-severe dyspnea, score ≥2 on the modified Medical Research Council Questionnaire (adjusted OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.51-0.93); and lower COPD Assessment Test scores (β -1.1, 95% CI -1.9 to -0.2). No difference was observed between groups in 6-minute walk distance (β 0.7 meters, 95% CI -14.3 to 15.6). The analysis included COPD patients in SPIROMICS who self-reported daily aspirin use at study entry, 45% of the 1,698 study participants. Acute exacerbations of COPD were prospectively determined through quarterly structured telephone questionnaires for up to 3 years and categorized as moderate (symptoms treated with antibiotics or oral corticosteroids) or severe (requiring an emergency department visit or hospitalization). Aspirin users were matched 1:1 with non-users based on propensity score, which resulted in 503 participant-pairs. The association of aspirin use with total, moderate, and severe acute COPD exacerbation was investigated using zero-inflated negative binomial models. Linear or logistic regression were used to investigate the association with baseline respiratory symptoms, quality of life, and exercise tolerance. The researchers noted that aspirin has several systemic and local pulmonary mechanisms of action that could explain the findings, including "inactivation of platelets and reduced inflammation," among them. "A urinary metabolite of thromboxane A2, which is secreted by activated platelets, has been shown to be elevated among patients with COPD and represents the pathway irreversibly blocked by aspirin. Persistent systemic elevation of inflammatory markers interleukin-6 and CRP may represent a systemic inflammatory phenotype of COPD which are attenuated by aspirin in other patient populations," the researchers wrote. They further noted that in a 2017 study, treatment with aspirin was found to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage samples of 33 healthy volunteers. Study limitations cited by the researchers included the study participants' self-reporting of daily aspirin use, without dosing information. Information on duration of aspirin use and adherence to therapy before and during the study was also unavailable. COPD exacerbations were not confirmed with medical records, which may have led to misclassification of events. And despite propensity score matching and other efforts to avoid confounding, the researchers acknowledged that they may not have controlled for all factors that could have impacted their outcomes. They concluded that a randomized study is needed to determine whether daily aspirin use is protective against COPD exacerbations. "Prospective randomized clinical trials of aspirin use are warranted to explore its potential effect in reducing COPD morbidity," they wrote.

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COPD World News - Week of December 23, 2018

Surgeon General declares e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic  

Washington, DC - The U.S. Surgeon General on Tuesday declared electronic cigarette use among America's youth "an epidemic" and called for new restrictions on the products. The action comes a day after release of a Monitoring the Future report, which confirmed that teen vaping nearly doubled in 2018, with one in five high school seniors reporting current use of e-cigarettes. More than 3.6 million teens in the U.S. reported that they regularly used the vaping products. Recommendations in an advisory by Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, include banning vaping from establishments now covered by indoor smoke-free air policies, further restricting youth access to e-cigarettes in retail establishments, implementing new price policies, and banning marketing to youth. "The recent surge in e-cigarette use among youth, which has been fueled by new types of e-cigarettes that have recently entered the market, is cause for great concern," he said. "We must take action now to protect the health of our nation's young people." In a press conference, Adams cited a Surgeon General's report issued 2 years ago on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults. He was joined by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD. "We know that nicotine exposure during adolescence can uniquely harm the developing adolescent brain, impacting learning, memory, and attention," Adams said. "We know that exposure during this critical period can lead to further addiction. And we know that the notion that e-cigarette aerosol is harmless water vapor -- something even my 14-year-old son thought was true -- is a myth." "Studies show youth, like my son, have no clue what's in these products most of the time," Adams continued. "And shockingly to me as a parent, a third of youth who have ever used e-cigarettes have used marijuana in them. Yet, 2 years after [the Surgeon General's report] sounded the alarm bells, youth e-cigarette use has skyrocketed. So much so, that I am officially declaring e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic in the United States." Azar noted that the Monitoring the Future survey (sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse) confirmed that the rise in youth e-cigarette use during 2017 and 2018 was the largest-ever single-year increase in use of a single substance ever recorded in the 43 years of the survey. "We have never seen the use of any substance by America's young people rise this rapidly. This is an unprecedented challenge," Azar said. "We are at risk of a huge share of a whole generation developing an addiction to nicotine, and that is not a future that anyone wants for our country." Azar reaffirmed HHS's commitment to exploring the potential of e-cigarettes as smoking-cessation products to help traditional cigarette smokers kick the habit. "We want to ensure that e-cigarettes can be used as an off-ramp for adults who want to quit combustible cigarettes," he said. "Traditional combustible cigarettes remain the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and providing an effective off-ramp from them is a public health priority. But at the same time, we can’t allow e-cigarettes to become an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for younger Americans." Earlier this month, it was announced that the FDA will restrict the sale of certain flavored e-cigarettes in a move to address the epidemic increase in use among teens. At that time, Gottlieb warned that the agency may go much further if the flavor ban did not lead to reductions in youth tobacco use.

COPD World News - Week of December 16, 2018

Flu shot tied to heart failure survival  

Copenhagen, Denmark - Getting the flu shot each year is associated with better survival outcomes for heart failure (HF) patients, a large, Danish cohort study found. After adjustment for education, household income, prescriptions, comorbidities, and inclusion date, patients getting at least one influenza vaccination during the median 3.7 years of follow-up had an 18% lower risk of all-cause mortality (HR 0.82, 95% CI 0.81-0.84) and death from cardiovascular causes (HR 0.82, 95% CI 0.81-0.84). The more years vaccinated and the earlier in the flu season it was done, the lower the risk of all-cause and cardiovascular death (both P<0.001 for trend), reported Daniel Modin, BSc, Med, of the University of Copenhagen, and colleagues in Circulation. If causal, the effect would be nearly on par with the 20% to 25% mortality reduction seen with beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors, they noted, although cautioning that their observational findings couldn't prove a direct effect. Even so, these findings "may well motivate [cardiologists] to refer all their heart failure patients for vaccination to their primary care doctor or to a pharmacy," commented William Schaffner, MD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. According to Schaffner, "Influenza immunization is inexpensive, quick, and I don't think that cardiologists can do anything else to benefit their patients that has the immediate impact that influenza vaccination does or is as cheap. So, I think every cardiologist ought to be doing this, starting the day after this paper is published." The American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, and the European Society of Cardiology encourage the flu shot for HF patients but without a class of recommendation or level of evidence given "due to lack of sufficient evidence," the study authors noted. Some observational studies have suggested benefits of the flu shot can be for heart failure patients, but there have not been any randomized control trials to establish these findings. "Although we know that influenza vaccination benefits the larger population as a whole, this study serves to clarify the risk reduction in vaccination among heart failure patients. Heart failure patients are a vulnerable population with increased susceptibility to complications of infectious diseases," noted Ajith Nair, MD, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who was not involved in the study. Of the 134,048 adults with HF in Denmark studied through nationwide registries under the universal healthcare available there, 58% died of any cause over a median follow-up of 3.7 years, and 36% died of cardiovascular related incidents over a median follow-up of 3.3 years. Vaccination coverage varied from 16% in 2003 to 52% in 2015. Patients who died within 30 days of receiving an HF diagnosis were excluded from the study. The findings of this large and rigorously done study should be generalizable, noted Schaffner. "Heart failure patients are similar all over the world, so we can take this one to the proverbial bank."

COPD World News - Week of December 9, 2018

Report encourages provinces to take action on flu vaccinations  

Toronto, ON - Canada is falling short of the immunization rates needed to protect all Canadians, but the National Institute on Ageing’s (NIA) leadership in advocating for more effective public policies is spurring provincial governments to act. In February, the NIA launched its report The Underappreciated Burden of Influenza Amongst Canada’s Older Population. And What We Need to Do About It, which recommended that provinces make the influenza vaccine available to all health care professionals and residents in long-term care homes. Since the report’s initial release in February, more provinces are turning this recommendation into public policies to prevent influenza infections and related complications among older adults. Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan are funding the high-dose flu vaccine for all residents of long-term care homes. The high-dose influenza vaccine has been shown to be more effective than the traditional influenza vaccine in higher-risk individuals aged 65 and over. While the report did not specifically recommend that governments make the high-dose vaccine available to long-term care residents, we are pleased to see that residents of long-term care homes will be able to access a vaccine in these three provinces given their greater likelihood of having worse outcomes if they contract influenza. Influenza remains the 7th leading cause of death in Canada, leading to an average of 3,500 deaths and 12,200 hospitalizations each year. As Dr. Samir Sinha, the NIA’s Director of Health Policy Research, recently discussed on CBC’s The National, an influenza infection can exacerbate existing chronic conditions, leading to increased health complications. Since chronic health conditions are more prevalent in older populations, it is important to their overall health and effective management of chronic health conditions that older adults are protected from influenza. Yet the report highlights that despite the continued efforts of public health outreach campaigns to promote uptake of the seasonal influenza vaccine, older Canadians aged 65-plus remain under-vaccinated. To help address low vaccination rates, nine provinces are allowing pharmacists to deliver the annual influenza vaccine, which has been shown to increase vaccination rates amongst Canadians. In order to protect everyone from negative health outcomes associated with influenza, particularly older adults who are at greater risk of influenza-related complications, provinces should ensure the annual vaccine is available and free for every Canadian. Unfortunately, many provinces have still not made the influenza vaccine universally accessible, and others changed their recommendations. Despite most provinces and territories enacting evidence-based policies that make the influenza vaccine universally available, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Quebec remain outliers in Canada where the vaccine is not available to all residents. In Quebec, the vaccine is no longer recommended for healthy adults age 60-74 or for healthy children from 6 months-23 months. They are able to receive the vaccine free of charge if they specifically ask for it. It is important that health care providers receive the annual influenza vaccine to protect their patients from the virus. However, in Toronto, the Ontario Nurses Association has won against the vaccinate-or-mask policy that was in effect at St. Michael’s Hospital, which required all health care providers to either receive the influenza vaccine or wear a surgical mask when in patient care areas. As a result, the vaccinate-or-mask policies are no longer in effect at any Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN) hospitals. Currently, only about 50% of health care providers across Canada receive the annual influenza vaccine. The NIA’s report highly recommends that all health care providers receive the annual influenza vaccine.

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COPD World News - Week of December 2, 2018

Standards in COPD care developed in Ontario

Toronto, ON – Health Quality Ontario recently launched new quality standards for those in Ontario who are living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They state that chronic breathing conditions are the second most common reason for a hospital stay in Ontario, after childbirth. Most people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, are not diagnosed with the condition until an acute episode brings them to the hospital. Quality standards are developed in consultation with clinicians and people living with the condition and are based on the best evidence available. Standards are accompanied by a guide for patients to help them have informed discussions with their health care providers, as well as recommendations for system adoption. The quality standards include the assessment of people who may have COPD. It also provides guidance on the diagnosis, management, and treatment of COPD in community-based settings. The scope of the quality standards applies to primary care, specialist care, home care, and long-term care. The standards cover a range of assessments beginning with diagnosis, which is confirmed with spirometry. In all, there are 14 standards that have been developed for COPD. Details of the assessments and standards can be reviewed on the Health Quality Ontario web site.

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COPD World News - Week of November 25, 2018

Room to grow in lung cancer screening 

Toronto, ON - At the 2018 World Conference on Lung Cancer in Toronto, results from the NELSON trial showed that lung cancer mortality dropped by 26% in high-risk men and by as much as 61% in women who underwent low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening (LCS). NELSON offered larger reductions in lung cancer mortality than the landmark National Lung Screening Trial. And in a pro-con session at CHEST 2018, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, an author of the CHEST LCS guidelines, stressed that LCS should be encouraged in patients whose risk of death from lung cancer is expected to be higher than their risk of death from other causes. But the "S" could also stand for "speculative," as questions still remain about how to refine LCS for maximum impact. At the CHEST debate, another guidelines author conceded that NLST and NELSON made a good case for screening relatively healthy smokers and former smokers, but the data may not apply to most "real-world" patients who have serious co-morbidities that may pose a higher death risk than lung cancer. In addition, data from the Veteran's Administration Lung Cancer Screening Demonstration Project demonstrated that adherence to annual LCS was lackluster among screening-eligible participants. "The goal of LCS is to create the greatest benefit measured by a reduction in disease-specific mortality while minimizing screen-related harm," noted Doug Arenberg, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, during a talk at CHEST 2018. "Understanding harm outside of a clinical trial can be difficult. Identifying more cancers will always come at a cost of more false positives and over-diagnosis, and potentially conflict with competing causes of mortality. Our job is to identify that area where balance is critical." Part of that balancing act is the continued analysis of how to make LCS better.

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COPD World News - Week of November 18, 2018

Canada falling short on flu vaccinations

Ottawa, ON - According to the Public Health Agency of Canada too few Canadians or just 38% of adults were vaccinated last year. Canada is failing to meet federal flu vaccination goals as Canadians continue to balk at rolling up their sleeves according to a news report broadcast by CBC news. While the vaccination programs themselves fall under provincial jurisdiction, the Public Health Agency promotes the vaccinations nationally and monitors the spread of flu and flu-like illnesses. The agency hired the research firm Léger to ask Canadians in early 2018 whether they had received the shot or spray — and if not, why not. The results were then shared in multiple internal reports. The number of Canadians reporting vaccinations has basically flat-lined since 2015, the first year the agency started surveying Canadians. At the time, 34.3 per cent of Canadians said they had been vaccinated. Most respondents said they didn't get the shot because they didn't think they needed one, or they believe it doesn't work. "Recent reports in the media regarding the low effectiveness of the influenza vaccine can be contributing to this belief," says the agency's analysis. Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said they're looking into why so many people aren't getting the shot. "We recognize people have busy lives," he said. "And if there's anything that we can do systematically, from a program delivery point of view at a local level, to make it easier for people to get the flu vaccine, to take time out of their busy schedules, I think that that's certainly something that's encouraged. "Even if you don't think that you personally are at risk, it's important to get the flu vaccine because you can also protect your loved ones, those who might be at a higher risk because of chronic diseases." According to the report, the agency set a goal of getting 80 per cent of high-risk Canadians vaccinated, but fell short. Just 39 per cent of adults with chronic medical diseases bothered with the shot. The health agency also zoomed in on some of the survey data to get a sense of how many young children are getting the flu shot. Kids under the age of five face a higher risk of getting sick. The report showed the majority (63 per cent) of children aged six to 59 months in surveyed households were not vaccinated. Again, when asked why, parents said they didn't think the vaccination was needed. On the positive side, about 71 per cent of seniors — another one of the health agency's targeted high-risk groups — were vaccinated last winter, getting the closest to the set target. "We recognize that we have to be realistic," said Njoo. "And so, if we aim for this [80 per cent] coverage goal for these three main groups, then over time I think as those coverage rates improve then, just by sort a spillover effect, it will also improve rates overall for the general population. "Obviously, it would be good if everyone were able to, you know, get that kind of coverage." On average, says the agency, the flu sends 12,200 Canadians to hospital and kills 3,500 a year — "an underappreciated contributor to mortality."

Physical activity characteristics in COPD, bronchiectasis and asthma   

Newcastle, NSW, Australia – A study recently published in the journal Respirology looked at differences in physical activity in three obstructive airway diseases – COPD, asthma and bronchiectasis. Physical activity (PA) in obstructive airway diseases (OAD) is likely to be impaired but this has not been extensively studied outside of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The researchers describe physical activity levels in severe asthma and bronchiectasis compared to moderate-severe COPD and to controls, and tested the cross-sectional associations of physical activity (steps/day) with shared disease characteristics in the obstructive airway diseases group. Adults with OAD (severe asthma = 62, COPD = 67, bronchiectasis = 60) and controls (n = 63) underwent a multidimensional assessment, including device-measured physical activity levels. The OAD group included 189 participants (58.7% females), with median (interquartile range) age of 67 (58-72) years and mean forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) % predicted of 69.4%. Demographic characteristics differed between groups. Compared to controls (52.4% females, aged 55 (34-64) years, median 7640 steps/day), those with severe asthma, bronchiectasis and COPD accumulated less steps/day: median difference of -2255, -2289, and -4782, respectively (P ≤ 0.001). Compared to COPD, severe asthma and bronchiectasis participants accumulated more steps/day: median difference of 2375 and 2341, respectively (P ≤ 0.001). No significant differences were found between the severe asthma and bronchiectasis group. Exercise capacity, FEV1 % predicted, dyspnoea and systemic inflammation differed between groups, but were each significantly associated with steps/day in OAD. In the multivariable model adjusted for all disease characteristics, exercise capacity and FEV1 % predicted remained significantly associated. The researchers concluded that physical activity impairment is common in obstructive airway diseases. The activity level was associated with shared characteristics of these diseases. Interventions to improve physical activity should be multifactorial and consider the level of impairment and the associated characteristics.

COPD World News - Week of November 11, 2018

The 1918 Flu Pandemic: Informing influenza research, 100 years later  

Winnipeg, MB - Worldwide, the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic swiftly killed approximately 50 million people and infected millions more – approximately 1/3 of the world’s population. This pandemic was particularly unpredictable because it impacted otherwise healthy adults the most. The mortality rate among this group was 20 times greater than with the seasonal flu. Physicians could offer very little in the way of prevention or treatment – the most common prescription was bed rest and a careful diet. Many Canadians only think of the flu in the fall, especially when they are reminded to get their flu shots. However, dedicated scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) still refer to the memory of the 1918 flu in their day-to-day work. This is because the 1918 flu pandemic is sometimes called the “mother of all human flu viruses”. In fact, almost all cases of influenza A have been caused by flu viruses that can be genetically traced back to the 1918 flu. No one knows for sure where on the map the 1918 virus actually came from, but Dr. Darwyn Kobasa, a scientist at the NML, agrees that like all other flu viruses, it likely originated in a bird. However, in order for the virus to make the jump from birds to human, it needed an intermediate host to allow the transmission to humans .“Beginning as an avian virus,” Dr. Kobasa describes, “the 1918 virus most likely crossed into mammal hosts—possibly to pigs first, and then to humans—after an unknown period of adaptation.” “This period of adaptation,” he explained, “is one of the events that many flu researchers are now looking for with avian viruses—that is, mutations that would support a cross-over event to a new host species from birds.” NML scientists found that the virus was very unique, even among the most severe strains of the human flu. In fact, when NML scientists needed to work with the 1918 flu virus directly, they could only do so in a level four containment lab. These state-of-the-art, high security laboratories are where scientists investigate deadly pathogens under the most secure conditions possible, in order to keep themselves and others safe from the virus. Today, NML scientists are on the lookout for signs in current avian viruses that could possibly mutate and lead to a virus with the potential of causing another severe pandemic outbreak. The world has seen several flu pandemics, including in 1957-1958, 1968-1969 and 2009-2010, but none were as severe as the 1918 pandemic. Canadian researchers at the NML played a crucial role in decoding the 2009-2010 pandemic flu virus, isolating and replicating certain genes in the virus. Thanks to scientists, like those at the NML, the world has made incredible progress through the use of flu vaccines and treatments which have helped to prevent and treat the severity of infections and diseases. Public health is in the hands of us all, and getting your flu shot is the best way to keep you and your family safe during flu season. The 1918 flu pandemic remains a warning of what could happen if a completely new flu virus were to appear in the future. However, we have learned throughout history that no two pandemics are identical – we must be ready to adapt and adjust our public health advice based on situations as they develop.

COPD World News - Week of November 4, 2018

Study suggests heart attack more likely after flu  

Toronto, ON – A recent study led by researchers at the University of Toronto and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at seven years of data, sifting through nearly 20,000 Ontario adult cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza infection from 2009 to 2014. They identified 364 patients with confirmed cases of the flu within a year before or after having a heart attack. The study indicates that one is six times more likely to have a heart attack after the flu than usual. Of these cases, 20 heart attacks happened in the single week after a flu diagnosis, compared to 344 (just 3.3 admissions per week) during the rest of the year. Severe cases of the flu are a shock to the entire system. The resulting inflammation can make the heart beat faster, and it can also activate platelets that then increase the odds that blood will clot in the arteries that serve the heart. The team also looked at other confirmed acute respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or non-viral infections. Although heart attack risk was also elevated to triple their normal incidence, flu infections saw the most significant association. “Our findings, combined with previous evidence that influenza vaccination reduces cardiovascular events and mortality, support international guidelines that advocate for influenza immunization in those at high risk of heart attacks,” said epidemiologist and lead author Jeff Kwong in a statement. An unconfirmed link between the flu and heart attacks was first noted in the 1930s. However, many studies did not definitively prove flu infection (versus other similar acute respiratory infections), or were designed in ways that could have given biased results. This confirmation is important for many reasons. It adds to the growing evidence that the annual flu shot is important for everyone who is medically able to get it – not just because the flu itself is deadly, but because of the potential complications. This is especially true for patients already at increased risk of heart disease. It also emphasizes the importance that patients go for medical evaluation without delay if they experience heart symptoms, like chest pain or shortness of breath, within the first week of an acute respiratory infection. People should also take standard precautions, like frequent handwashing and keeping distance from people with the flu.

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COPD World News - Week of October 28, 2018

Respiratory health should be studied on migrant and refugee populations  

Washington, DC - Migrants represent a diverse population comprising workers, students, undocumented individuals, and refugees. Worldwide, approximately 1 billion people were considered migrants in 2016. Notably, about 65 million of these migrants were forcibly displaced from their homes, and 20 million were considered refugees. While the geopolitical consequences of such migration continue to be considered, less is known about the impact of these events on the respiratory health of migrants and refugees. In recognition of this knowledge gap, the American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society brought together investigators with diverse and relevant expertise to participate in a workshop and develop a consensus on research needs on the respiratory health of migrants and refugees. The workshop focused on environmental and occupational hazards, chronic noninfectious diseases, and respiratory infectious diseases, which were presented by experts in three distinct sessions, each culminating with panel discussions. A writing committee collected summaries prepared by speakers and other participants, and the information was collated into a single document. Recommendations were formulated, and differences were resolved by discussion and consensus. The group identified important areas of research need, while emphasizing that reducing the burden of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep disorders in migrants and refugees will require a concerted effort by all stakeholders. Using best research practices, considering how research impacts policies affecting migrant and refugee populations, and developing new approaches to engage and fund trainees, clinical investigators, and public health practitioners to conduct high-quality research on respiratory health of migrants and refugees is essential.

COPD World News - Week of October 21, 2018

Long-term trial of “Urban Training” to increase physical activity in patients with COPD   

Barcelona, Spain -There is a need to increase and maintain physical activity in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Researchers here assessed 12-month efficacy and effectiveness of the Urban Training intervention on physical activity in COPD patients. This randomised controlled trial (NCT01897298) allocated 407 COPD patients from primary and hospital settings 1:1 to usual care (n=205) or Urban Training (n=202). Urban Training consisted of a baseline motivational interview, advice to walk on urban trails designed for COPD patients in outdoor public spaces and other optional components for feedback, motivation, information and support (pedometer, calendar, physical activity brochure, website, phone text messages, walking groups and a phone number). The primary outcome was 12-month change in steps·day−1measured by accelerometer. Efficacy analysis (with per-protocol analysis set, n=233 classified as adherent to the assigned intervention) showed adjusted (95% CI) 12-month difference +957 (184–1731) steps·day−1between Urban Training and usual care. Effectiveness analysis (with intention-to-treat analysis set, n=280 patients completing the study at 12 months including unwilling and self-reported non-adherent patients) showed no differences between groups. Leg muscle pain during walks was more frequently reported in Urban Training than usual care, without differences in any of the other adverse events. Urban Training, combining behavioral strategies with unsupervised outdoor walking, was efficacious in increasing physical activity after 12 months in COPD patients, with few safety concerns. However, it was ineffective in the full population including unwilling and self-reported non-adherent patients.

COPD World News - Week of October 14, 2018

Impotence warnings might motivate men to kick the habit

San Antonio, TX - Most men who smoke cigarettes are very aware that the habit increases their risk for lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart disease. But a small study suggests they are largely unaware of another smoking-related risk, one that hits below the belt, Khushbir Bath, MD, of Harlem Hospital in New York City, reported here. When clinicians at Bath's hospital asked over 100 men (current or former smokers) if they knew that smoking is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction, fewer than one in seven said they did. The finding, if confirmed in larger studies, suggests that anti-tobacco public health messaging may be missing an opportunity to motivate men to kick the habit, Bath told MedPage Today. The study was presented at CHEST 2018, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians. "If more men knew that smoking for 20 or 30 years increases their risk of having difficulty achieving an erection, that could be a strong motivator for quitting," he said. "Maybe even more of a motivator for some men than telling them, 'You are going to die.'" Bath said he got the idea for the study after having a conversation with a patient in his 40s who said he was having difficulty with erections. The man, who was a heavy smoker, said he wasn't aware the habit could contribute to erectile dysfunction. "He knew that smoking caused lung cancer, heart disease, and mouth cancer. He even knew that it caused infertility in women, but he didn't know that it caused difficulty with erections," Bath said. "When I told him he looked at me and said, 'I'm going to quit right now.'" Bath said the informal study included 104 men (>18 years) who smoked or were former smokers being treated at his Harlem Hospital primary care clinic who volunteered to take the survey. Questionnaires collected data on demographics, general health status, smoking history, past medical history, and knowledge regarding smoking and its health hazards. The majority of the respondents were African American (57%), and 23% were Hispanic. Most of the participants were current smokers (96%). Of those, 39% had smoked for over 20 years, 45% reported smoking more than a pack per day, and 97% reported that the main hazard of smoking is lung cancer, while 47% reported heart disease as likely to be related to smoking. Only 14 responders (13%) knew about the association between smoking and erectile dysfunction. All respondents said having adequate knowledge of the association between smoking and all three of these health conditions would be a motivator for them to quit smoking. Bath said that when he conducted an informal investigation, including an internet search, to examine cigarette package labeling and anti-tobacco messaging in the U.S., he found no mention of erectile dysfunction as a smoking-related risk. In contrast, he found that cigarette package labeling in 26 countries outside the U.S. included impotence warnings. Bath said countless studies over the past 20 years have proven the link between chronic cigarette smoking and impotence. He added that he would like to see a larger study done to confirm his findings. "From my small study it does appear that people in my community lack this knowledge," he said. "Primary care physicians should be telling their male patients who smoke about this risk."

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COPD World News - Week of October 7, 2018

US Officials emphasize flu vaccination after 80K died last year

Washington, DC - Following a severe 2017-2018 influenza season in which an estimated 900,000 people were hospitalized and 80,000 died, United States officials reemphasized the need for everyone aged 6 months or older to get vaccinated. “Those 80,000 who died, guess what, they got that influenza from someone,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, said Thursday during the annual influenza news conference hosted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). “It’s critically important that we impress upon folks. A projected 168 million doses of influenza vaccine that will be available this season. Adams said influenza caused 180 deaths in children last season “and the majority of them were not vaccinated.” The CDC believes 180 deaths is an underestimation because not all influenza-related deaths are reported. The study showed that the highest coverage was associated with workplace vaccination requirements and was consistently higher among health care personnel working in hospital settings. Influenza vaccination coverage among health care personnel working in long-term care settings remains consistently lower than all other settings — a concerning finding considering many of them work as assistants and aides to the elderly, who experience lower vaccine efficacy and are at increased risk for severe disease, the authors said. Additionally, older adults and those with certain chronic health conditions, such as heart and lung disease, diabetes and obesity, are at risk for serious influenza complications, according to NFID. Last season took the greatest toll on adults aged 65 years and older. According to the CDC, 70% of hospitalizations and 90% of deaths occurred in that age group. “Influenza is difficult to predict and can cause serious complications even for the healthy,” Adams said. “Vaccination is the best thing you can do to protect yourself, your family, and my family. Together, let’s fight flu.”

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COPD World News - Week of September 30, 2018

Smoking, not COPD, as the disease  

Boston, MA - Smoking causes not only cancer but also cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, coronary heart disease, hypertension, thromboembolism, and peripheral artery disease, lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and many other diseases, including (but not limited to) type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts, and macular degeneration.1 These diseases develop with age and contribute in different measure to the current epidemic of chronic noncommunicable diseases that are associated with smoking and aging. Even though the effects of smoking are broad and devastating, much smoking-related research traditionally focuses on the lung because the lung is considered to be the primary target organ of smoking.3 Even though COPD is one of the major consequences of smoking, COPD usually does not exist by itself, because it is almost invariably associated with concomitant chronic respiratory and non-respiratory diseases that contribute to the clinical manifestations and severity of the smoking-induced systemic disease. COPD, as defined by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, is diagnosed as persistent airflow limitation in smokers. This definition has limitations for clinical practice, because it does not mention symptoms and applies only to smokers in whom airflow limitation has developed. In fact, the only COPD we know well is the one that is defined as airflow limitation in smokers, because most of the data available on the pathophysiology and management of COPD have been derived from smokers with airflow limitation that was defined according to spirometric assessment. Woodruff and colleagues report appeared in a recent issue the New England Journal of Medicine. Their report looked at a group of smokers with normal findings on spirometry who have chronic respiratory symptoms, exacerbations (identified as the use of antibiotic agents, systemic glucocorticoids, or both or an event of health care utilization such as an office visit, hospital admission, or emergency department visit for a respiratory flare-up), lower than normal exercise tolerance, and imaging evidence of bronchiolitis. Thus, they conclude that spirometry is not adequate to define the breadth of smoking-induced lung disease. These results confirm and extend the findings of another recent large study that showed that more than 50% of symptomatic smokers with normal findings on spirometry have considerable respiratory-related impairment and evidence of emphysema on imaging. Most of these symptomatic smokers with normal findings on spirometry are often treated (without any evidence) with inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoids — that is, they are treated like patients with COPD, but they do not have COPD according to our current definition. These two studies introduce an important paradigm shift in our approach to smoking-induced disease. Both studies show that patients who have chronic respiratory symptoms without airflow limitation have the same respiratory consequences as those who have mild-to-moderate airflow obstruction and get the official diagnostic label of COPD. This finding tells us that symptoms are at least as sensitive as airflow limitation in establishing a diagnosis of smoking-induced disease. The observation that bronchiolitis and emphysema that are detected by means of computed tomographic scanning may be present in some smokers without airflow limitation lends a firm biologic basis to these inferences and reminds us, once again, that COPD may be a disease of the “lung’s quiet zone,” as defined by Mead almost 50 years ago — a place where there can be pathobiologic changes that are not detected by changes in the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1). These two studies have identified a complex clinical syndrome that is treated as COPD in practice even when airflow limitation is not present — a syndrome that very much resembles heart failure without impairment of ejection fraction.

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COPD World News - Week of September 23, 2018

AI improves doctors’ ability to diagnose lung disease 

Paris, France: Artificial intelligence (AI) can be an invaluable aid to help lung doctors interpret respiratory symptoms accurately and make a correct diagnosis, according to new research presented today (Wednesday) at the European Respiratory Society International Congress [1]. Dr Marko Topalovic (PhD), a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory for Respiratory Diseases, Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium, told the meeting that after training an AI computer algorithm using good quality data, it proved to be more consistent and accurate in interpreting respiratory test results and suggesting diagnoses than lung specialists. "Pulmonary function tests provide an extensive series of numerical outputs and their patterns can be hard for the human eye to perceive and recognise; however, it is easy for computers to manage large quantities of data like these and so we thought AI could be useful for pulmonologists. We explored if this was true with 120 pulmonologists from 16 hospitals. We found that diagnosis by AI was more accurate in twice as many cases as diagnosis by pulmonologists. These results show how AI can serve as a second opinion for pulmonologists when they are assessing and diagnosing their patients," he said. Pulmonary function tests (PFT) include: spirometry, which involves the patient breathing through a mouthpiece to measure the amount of air inhaled and exhaled; a body box or plethysmography test, which enables doctors to assess lung volume by measuring the pressure in a booth in which the patient is sitting and breathing through a mouthpiece; and a diffusion capacity test, which tests how well a patient's lungs are able to transfer oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the bloodstream by testing the efficiency of the alveoli (small air sacks in the lungs). Results from these tests give doctors important information about the functioning of the lungs, but do not tell them what is wrong with the patient. This requires interpretation of the results in order to reach a diagnosis. In this study, the researchers used historical data from 1430 patients from 33 Belgian hospitals. The data were assessed by an expert panel of pulmonologists and interpretations were measured against gold standard guidelines from the European Respiratory Society and the American Thoracic Society. The expert panel considered patients' medical histories, results of all PFTs and any additional tests, before agreeing on the correct interpretation and diagnosis for each patient. "When training the AI algorithm, the use of good quality data is of utmost importance," explained Dr Topalovic. "An expert panel examined all the results from the pulmonary function tests, and the other tests and medical information as well. They used these to reach agreement on final diagnoses that the experts were confident were correct. These were then used to develop an algorithm to train the AI, before validating it by incorporating it into real clinical practice at the University Hospital Leuven. The challenging part was making sure the algorithm recognised patterns of up to nine different diseases." Then, 120 pulmonologists from 16 European hospitals (from Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg) made 6000 interpretations of PFT data from 50 randomly selected patients. The AI also examined the same data. The results from both were measured against the gold standard guidelines in the same way as during development of the algorithm. The researchers found that the interpretation of the PFTs by the pulmonologists matched the guidelines in 74% of cases (with a range of 56-88%), but the AI-based software interpretations perfectly matched the guidelines (100%). The doctors were able to correctly diagnose the primary disease in 45% of cases (with a range of 24-62%), while the AI gave a correct diagnosis in 82% of cases. Dr Topalovic said: "We found that the interpretation of pulmonary function tests and the diagnosis of respiratory disease by pulmonologists is not an easy task. It takes more information and further tests to reach a satisfactory level of accuracy. On the other hand, the AI-based software has superior performance and therefore can provide a powerful decision support tool to improve current clinical practice. Feedback from doctors is very positive, particularly as it helps them to identify difficult patterns of rare diseases." Two large Belgian hospitals are already using the AI-based software to improve interpretations and diagnoses. "We firmly believe that we can empower doctors to make their interpretations and diagnoses easier, faster and better. AI will not replace doctors, that is certain, because doctors are able to see a broader perspective than that presented by pulmonary function tests alone. This enables them to make decisions based on a combination of many different factors. However, it is evident that AI will augment our abilities to accomplish more and decrease chances for errors and redundant work. The AI-based software has superior performance and therefore may provide a powerful decision support tool to improve current clinical practice. "Nowadays, we trust computers to fly our planes, to drive our cars and to survey our security. We can also have confidence in computers to label medical conditions based on specific data. The beauty is that, independent of location or medical coverage, AI can provide the highest standards of PFT interpretation and patients can have the best and affordable diagnostic experience. Whether it will be widely used in future clinical applications is just a matter of time, but will be driven by the acceptance of the medical community," said Dr Topalovic. He said the next step would be to get more hospitals to use this technology and investigate transferring the AI technology to primary care, where the data would be captured by general practitioners (GPs) to help them make correct diagnoses and referrals. Professor Mina Gaga is President of the European Respiratory Society, and Medical Director and Head of the Respiratory Department of Athens Chest Hospital, Greece, and was not involved in the study. She said: "This work shows the exciting possibilities that artificial intelligence offers to doctors to help them provide a better, quicker service to their patients. Over the past 20 to 30 years, the evolution in technology has led to better diagnosis and treatments: a revolution in imaging techniques, in molecular testing and in targeted treatments have make medicine easier and more effective. AI is the new addition! I think it will be invaluable in helping doctors and patients and will be an important aid to their decision-making."

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COPD World News - Week of September 16, 2018

Low dose aspirin bombs again for primary prevention 

Melbourne, Australia - MedPage Today reported that daily aspirin not only failed to help generally healthy older individuals reduce their risk of disability-free survival and cardiovascular disease in the placebo-controlled ASPREE trial, it also appeared to raise overall mortality and particularly death from cancer. The primary endpoint of combined death, dementia, persistent physical disability came up in equal rates among healthy seniors randomized to 100 mg daily enteric-coated aspirin or placebo for 5 years (21.5 versus 21.2 events per 1,000 person-years, HR 1.01, 95% CI 0.92-1.11), according to ASPREE investigators led by John J. McNeil, MD, of Monash University in Australia. Major hemorrhages were found to be more common in the aspirin group (8.6 versus 6.2 per 1,000 person-years, HR 1.38, 95% CI 1.18-1.62). This counted the uptick in upper GI bleeding (HR 1.87, 95% CI 1.32-2.66) and intracranial bleeds (HR 1.50, 95% CI 1.11-2.02). Aspirin users also showed a higher risk of all-cause mortality (12.7 versus 11.1 per 1,000 person-years, HR 1.14, 95% CI 1.01-2.19), which was driven by cancer deaths (6.7 versus 5.1 per 1,000 person-years, HR 1.31, 95% CI 1.10-1.56). "The trial was terminated at a median of 4.7 years of follow-up after a determination was made that there would be no benefit with continued aspirin use with regard to the primary end point," the authors noted in a report published online in the New England Journal of Medicine (one of three covering various aspects of the trial). No individual component of the primary endpoint made a case for the benefit of aspirin, which failed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well (10.7 versus 11.3 events per 1,000 person-years, HR 0.95, 95% CI 0.83-1.08). "Interpretation of these results should take into account the lower-than-expected rate of cardiovascular disease among the trial participants ... most likely reflecting the relatively good health of the participant population at recruitment and the declining rate of cardiovascular disease in the two countries over time and across all age groups," the investigators suggested. Steven Nissen, MD, of Cleveland Clinic, said that the main results of ASPREE are not surprising. "Many people, including me, do not believe that aspirin offers meaningful benefits in primary prevention and carries substantial bleeding risks ... Unless the cardiovascular risk is very high (>20% over ten years), prophylactic aspirin results in more harm than good." The trial follows in the heels of other major studies offering mixed-to-negative data on aspirin for primary prevention, most recently ASCEND and ARRIVE in diabetes and moderate-risk patients, respectively (both were recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting). ASPREE was a 19,114-person study of low-dose aspirin conducted in Australia and the U.S. McNeil and colleagues noted that adherence to the assigned treatment was 62.1% and 64.1% among aspirin and placebo recipients, respectively, during the final year of trial participation. Participants had to be 70 years or older (or 65 and older among blacks and Hispanics in the U.S.). The trial cohort was a median age 74 years at the time of enrollment in 2010-2014; 56.4% were women and 91.3% were white. The lack of racial diversity limits the generalizability of the trial, the authors said.

COPD World News - Week of September 9, 2018

Flu Vax Rates Rise with EHR Nudge 

Philadelphia, PA - Primary care clinics who implemented an "active choice intervention" into their electronic health record (EHR) systems were associated with a significant increase in influenza vaccination rates, researchers found. Though vaccination rates declined as the day progressed, adjusted analyses showed that practices that implemented the intervention had a 9.5 percentage point increase in vaccination rates compared with previous practices over time, reported Mitesh S. Patel, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues, writing in JAMA Network Open. They noted that "'nudges' can have outsized effects on medical decision making," but that while a prior study found an order to accept or decline influenza vaccinations in the EHR increased vaccination rates, it "could lead to clinician alert fatigue." Prior to expanding the practice, the authors then redirected the alerts to medical assistants, who could ask patients about influenza vaccination and "template orders in the EHR for clinicians to review." The researchers examined data from 11 primary care practices in the University of Pennsylvania Health System for the 2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017 influenza seasons. Three of these practices were intervention practices, while eight were control practices. The intervention was comprised of medical assistants being prompted to order the influenza vaccine in the EHR, and the clinician could accept or decline the order. The authors noted that "prior to the intervention, [primary care practitioners] had to remember to manually check if a patient was due for an influenza vaccination, discuss it with the patient, and then place an order for it in the EHR." Overall, the sample included about 96,000 patients, who were a mean age of 56; about 44% were men, and almost two-thirds were white. Unadjusted vaccination rates ranged from 44% with appointments from 8 am to 10 am to 32.0% at 4 pm. The authors found that compared with the 8 am appointment time, adjusted odds ratios of vaccination were "significantly lower for each subsequent hour of the day and for the overall linear trend". In addition, "adjusted preintervention trends during the first 2 years did not differ between groups

COPD World News - Week of September 2, 2018

Flu vaccine may be more effective in females than males  

Vancouver, BC - Data from seven recent influenza seasons in Canada showed the influenza vaccine may be more effective in females than males, according to study findings published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. Between 2010-2011 and 2016-2017, overall vaccine effectiveness was 49% for females and 38% for males, according to Danuta Skowronski, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, physician epidemiologist at the BC Centre for Disease Control and clinical professor in the school of population and public health at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues. “As with other medical interventions, it has previously been assumed that males and females respond the same way to vaccination, but our findings question the validity of that assumption for influenza vaccine,” Skowronski told Infectious Disease News. “The effect of sex on influenza vaccine protection that we observed was not large, and our findings cannot be considered conclusive. They are best interpreted as a prompt for more definitive investigation of possible sex effects on influenza vaccine protection.” According to the researchers, influenza vaccination coverage rates are higher among young adult women than young men in the United States and Canada. Additionally, they noted that many women work in health care and tend to be the primary caregiver for children and the elderly, increasing their likelihood of influenza exposure. Skowronski and colleagues investigated sex as a potential variable for the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine. They analyzed influenza vaccine effectiveness data from 2010-2011 to 2016-2017 from Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network (SPSN) databases. Sentinel practitioners collected respiratory samples from patients aged 1 year or older who presented within 7 days of influenza-like illness onset. Patients who tested positive for influenza by RT-PCR were included in the study, and patients who tested negative were added to the control group. Vaccination status, which was largely self-reported, was dependent upon patients receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine at least 2 weeks before symptom onset. According to the study, 60% of the SPSN participants were female and 40% were male. This trend was observed among influenza cases and test-negative controls, Skowronski and colleagues said. However, 40% of females tested positive for influenza compared with 43% of males (P <.01). The higher vaccination coverageamong females may account for why females were slightly less likely to test positive for influenza. Overall, 29% of females and 23% of males were vaccinated (P <.01). Similarly, 34% of female and 27% of male controls were vaccinated (P <.01). Adjusted vaccination effectiveness varied by influenza subtype/lineage, age group and season, although effectiveness was higher among females compared with males, 49% (95% CI, 43%-55%) vs. 38% (95% CI, 28%-46% [absolute difference (AD) = 11%, P =.03]). Age was also considered in the analysis, and the researchers observed the greatest difference in vaccine effectiveness between men and women among adults aged 50 years and older. In this group, adjusted vaccine effectiveness was 48% for women (95% CI, 38%-57%) compared with 29% for men (95% CI, 10%-44% [AD = 19%, P =.03]). In participants younger than age 20 years, vaccination effectiveness was closer between the sexes: 49% among females (95% CI, 31%-62%) and 45% among males (95% CI, 24%-59% [AD = 4%, P=.74]). According to the study, the majority of SPSN participants were aged 20 to 49 years and vaccination effectiveness was slightly higher in men (48%; 95% CI, 33%-60%) than in women (47%; 95% CI, 37%-56% [AD = -1%, P =.90]). Skowronski called the clinical implications of the findings “uncertain.” The researchers emphasized that more definitive research into the association between sex, age and vaccination effectiveness is needed. “Ideally, sex differences would be explored through gold standard randomized controlled trial (RCT) design,” Skowronski said. “To begin, pre-existing RCT datasets could also be retrospectively explored for sex differences in influenza vaccine efficacy and if the signal we report is confirmed, future studies might include the collection of biological specimens to investigate potential underlying mechanisms (hormonal, immunological, genetic).”   

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COPD World News - Week of August 26, 2018

Declining lung function associated with heart failure risk   

Boston, MA - Rapid decline in lung function, measured by serial spirometry, was associated with a greater incidence of heart failure and other cardiovascular disease outcomes, according to new research. Specifically, a rapid drop in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) was associated with a fourfold increased risk of incident heart failure during the first year of follow-up in a community-based cohort of more than 10,000 participants enrolled in the prospective Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Rapid decline in lung function measured by forced vital capacity (FVC) was associated with elevated heart failure risk throughout approximately 17 years of follow-up in the study online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. "Neither sex nor race significantly modified these associations," wrote Amil Shah, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues. "These findings demonstrate that deterioration in lung function is a predictor of incident cardiovascular disease, independent of smoking status and baseline lung function." The researchers noted that while rapid lung function decline is a well-known predictor of incident chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and coronary disease mortality, the association with incident cardiovascular events is not well understood. "Incipient or early heart failure may cause rapid deterioration in spirometric measures, and FEV1 in particular, due to interstitial and alveolar edema and consequent airway compression. However, rapid lung function decline secondary to early and undiagnosed heart failure (reserve causality) would be expected to predict incident heart failure during short-term as opposed to long term follow-up," the team wrote. Shah and co-authors hypothesized that declines in pulmonary function would be associated with an increase in risk for heart failure, stroke, coronary disease, and death over 2 decades of follow-up in a cohort of middle-aged individuals free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. The analysis included 10,351 participants in the ARIC study who were free of prevalent cardiovascular disease.

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COPD World News - Week of August 19, 2018

Considerations for the correct diagnosis of COPD  

San Antonio, TX - This review highlights the differences in diagnosis and treatment between COPD, asthma, and ACO and discusses the data supporting guideline recommendations for use of bronchodilators in COPD treatment in contrast to asthma or ACO. Despite the availability of well-established recommendations for diagnosis and management, COPD is often misdiagnosed and inappropriately treated in many patients, with approximately 50% of adults with COPD in the United States misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. Despite a common pathophysiology, COPD is a distinct disease from adult-onset asthma and clinicians need to be confident in their diagnosis to ensure the correct treatment. To further complicate the matter, approximately 15% to 20% of patients with COPD may present with features of asthma, described as asthma-COPD overlap (ACO). Long-acting β2-agonist (LABA) bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) both have a place in standard maintenance treatment of COPD and asthma; however, recommendations for use differ widely between diagnoses. In patients with COPD, LABAs are effective initial monotherapy treatments, whereas ICS use is only recommended in combination with LABA treatment in patients with more advanced disease. Contrastingly, ICS monotherapy is recommended as initial treatment in patients with asthma, whereas LABA monotherapy was associated with an increase in asthma-related death, resulting in a “black box” warning being required on LABA-containing drug labels. It is recommended that LABAs always be administered in combination with ICS when treating persistent asthma of any severity. There is limited pharmacologic evidence for the optimal treatment of ACO because these patients have historically been excluded from clinical trials. However, it is recommended that patients with ACO not be treated with a LABA without an ICS. A diagnosis of COPD should be considered in patients who have symptoms such as dyspnea, chronic cough or sputum production, and/or a history of exposure to risk factors such as tobacco smoke or occupational exposures. Importantly, postbronchodilator spirometry is required to confirm the presence of persistent airflow limitation. In some patients with mild airflow obstruction, spirometry values may be normalized with smoking cessation or use of bronchodilators. In fact, up to 27.2% of subjects in a Canadian study and 15.6% of smokers in a Spanish study had a reversal of their COPD diagnosis. Therefore, patients initially diagnosed with COPD, even those admitted with an exacerbation, should be reassessed at follow-up to avoid overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

COPD World News - Week of August 12, 2018

Study looks at women with asthma going on to develop COPD  

Toronto, ON - Researchers here have found that over 40% of women with asthma could go on to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Scientists looked at the long-term health records of 4,051 women with asthma living in Ontario, Canada. They found that 1,701 – or 42% – of the women went on to develop COPD. When a person has symptoms of both asthma and COPD, their condition is often referred to as asthma and COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS). People that have ACOS are more likely to have more flare-ups of their symptoms and to need more hospital treatment, and tend to feel more unwell than people that have just asthma or COPD. The researchers wanted to understand more about why some of the women with asthma developed ACOS, and why others did not. Using their health records, they compared a number of lifestyle and environmental risk factors among these women to see if there were any trends. They found that women who were heavy smokers were at a higher risk of going on to develop ACOS – though 38% of those who did had never smoked. Other factors associated with a higher risk of ACOS included being obese, living in rural areas, having lower education levels and being unemployed. The researchers therefore recommend that people with asthma are given support to live as healthily as possible – such as help with quitting smoking, eating healthily and being physically active. The study was supported by the Ontario Thoracic Society and was published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

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COPD World News - Week of August 5, 2018

Annual lung cancer screening recommended in high-risk adults 55-74 

Ottawa, ON - The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care now recommends screening using low-dose CT scans in high-risk adults aged 55-74 years who are current or former smokers with a smoking history of at least 30 pack-years, defined as the average number of packs smoked daily multiplied by the number of years of smoking. This is a big step in the fight against lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer related death in Canada. The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the better the opportunity for curative treatment. Much of the great improvement that has been seen in survival in cancers such as breast, colorectal and cervical have been due to finding the cancers earlier through regular testing, even of those at just moderate risk, such as from age. However, almost half (48%) of lung cancer diagnoses are made only when the cancer is already at stage 4, the most advanced stage, meaning it has already spread outside of the lung, and a further 27% of cases are diagnosed only at stage 3. The newest screening method, low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening, offers much greater promise by yielding a more comprehensive view of the lung tissue while exposing patients to only 20% of the normal CT scan radiation. An expert panel convened by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer in 2011 to review lung cancer screening reported that a comprehensive program of LDCT screening in Canadians at risk for lung cancer could be expected to save more than 1,200 lives per year, based on results of the National Lung Screening Trial in the US. In Canada, the Pan-Canadian Early Detection of Lung Cancer Study examined both how to incorporate lung cancer screening into our health care systems, and how much it would cost. This study found that screening has the potential to save the health care system a significant amount of money. In this study, the average cost to screen individuals at high risk for developing lung cancer using LDCT was $453 for the initial 18 months of screening following a baseline scan. If a patient can be treated using curative surgery, the average cost was $33,344 over two years. This is significantly lower than the average per person cost of $47,792 used in treating advanced-stage lung cancer with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or supportive care alone. The recommendation for lung cancer screening is a significant one. To date, no province has adopted a comprehensive lung cancer screening program. Lung Cancer Canada believes that lung cancer screening can save lives and lessen the significant burden on the healthcare system and have called on all provinces and territories to adopt screening programs that, at the very least, target patients with the highest risk of lung cancer.

COPD World News - Week of July 29, 2018

Aspirin use and progression of emphysema-like characteristics on CT imaging  

New York, NY - Researchers here hypothesized that regular use of aspirin, a platelet inhibitor, would be associated with a slower progression of emphysema-like lung characteristics on CT imaging and a slower decline in lung function. It was noted in their study that platelet activation reduces pulmonary microvascular blood flow and contributes to inflammation; these factors have been implicated in the pathogenesis of COPD and emphysema. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) enrolled participants 45 to 84 years of age without clinical cardiovascular disease from 2000 to 2002. The MESA Lung Study assessed the percentage of emphysema-like lung below –950 Hounsfield units (“percent emphysema”) on cardiac (2000-2007) and full-lung CT scans (2010-2012). Regular aspirin use was defined as 3 or more days per week. Mixed-effect models adjusted for demographics, anthropometric features, smoking, hypertension, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin II-receptor blocker use, C-reactive protein levels, sphingomyelin levels, and scanner factors. At baseline, the 4,257 participants' mean (± SD) age was 61 ± 10 years, 54% were ever smokers, and 22% used aspirin regularly. On average, percent emphysema increased 0.60 percentage points over 10 years (95% CI, 0.35-0.94). Progression of percent emphysema was slower among regular aspirin users compared with patients who did not use aspirin (fully adjusted model: –0.34% /10 years, 95% CI, –0.60 to –0.08; P = .01). Results were similar in ever smokers and with doses of 81 and 300 to 325 mg and were of greater magnitude among those with airflow limitation. No association was found between aspirin use and change in lung function. The researchers concluded that regular aspirin use was associated with a more than 50% reduction in the rate of emphysema progression over 10 years. They added that further study of aspirin and platelets in emphysema may be warranted. Lead author of the study is Carrie P. Aaron, MD., Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital

COPD World News - Week of July 22, 2018

Smoking rates projected to drop below 10% in 20 years

Toronto, ON – In 2003, tobacco smoking accounted for 9.5 per cent of all health spending in Ontario. By 2041, if the decrease in tobacco smoking rates continues, the researchers say this proportion will drop by more than one-third, to 5.9 per cent of total health spending. Between 2003 and 2041, there will be an estimated $51-billion reduction in tobacco smoking-attributable health care expenditures in Ontario. Despite this reduction, tobacco smoking-attributable health care expenditures will amount to $164 billion between 2003 and 2041. “Tobacco smoking profoundly affects not only health but also almost all aspects of health care. Smoking harms nearly every organ and system in the body. Diseases directly related to smoking are a major source of hospital admission, but even seemingly unrelated admissions are also affected. A person who smokes and has hip surgery will have a greater risk of complications, slower recovery and more likely to require the surgery be redone than a non-smoker,” added Dr. Manuel. The researchers add that investing in strategies to encourage the decrease of unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, ideally preventing the behaviours from starting in the first place, will go far to improve the health of Ontario’s population, while improving the sustainability of our health care system. "Health Care Cost of Smoking in Ontario, 2003 to 2041” is being published July 12, 2018. Author block: Douglas G. Manuel, Andrew S. Wilton, Adrian Rohit Dass, Audrey Laporte, Sima Gandhi and Carol Bennett. The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues.

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COPD World News - Week of July 15, 2018

Antidepressants can raise health risks for people with COPD  

Toronto, ON - Advocates say this information should be widely disseminated in the medical community, and alternative treatments for COPD patients should be considered. People with chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) suffer from symptoms that include breathlessness, coughing, and chest tightness. The disease is also associated with mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. By one estimate, as many as 70 percent of COPD patients deal with anxiety and other mood disorders. Now, a new study suggests certain antidepressants may increase the risk of death in people with COPD by 20 percent. Users of serotonergic antidepressants also had higher rates of hospitalization and emergency room visits. Dr. Nicholas Vozoris, lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto, as well as a respirologist at St. Michael’s Hospital, says the findings are not surprising. “These drugs can cause sleepiness, vomiting, and can negatively impact immune system cells. This increases the likelihood of infections, breathing issues, and other respiratory adverse events, especially in patients with COPD,” Vozoris said in an article on the St. Michael’s website. Russell Winwood, an athlete and COPD advocate, argues that the research should be widely disseminated to all physicians, especially those treating respiratory patients. “Unfortunately, information like this can take years to get out into clinics. By this time, many patients can already have experienced adverse side effects,” he said. For John Linnell, another COPD advocate, the new study poses more questions than answers. “I’m very curious if this problem is common knowledge among pulmonologists,” he said. “If it’s common knowledge to every doctor that it’s bad for respiratory patients, then the study is worthless. Well, I shouldn’t say worthless, but it doesn’t mean as much. But if this is something that’s new, that pulmonologists are not aware of, and it’s the primary care physician doing the prescribing and the pulmonologist is unaware of it, and all of a sudden, you’ve got more re-admissions, then yeah, then you’re really onto something.” Linnell agrees that this question is a major issue. “Who is prescribing the antidepressant? Is it the pulmonologist? Or is it the primary care physician?” he asked. Linnell added he knows from personal experience the problematic nature of several doctors managing one patient. “None of them knew what the other was doing at all unless I took the burden upon myself to let them know,” he said. “The underlying message is that the patient needs to make sure that one doctor needs to know what the other doctor is doing.” For COPD advocates, it’s clear there’s an association with COPD and mood disorders. Linnell, among others, suggests anxiety and depression are due to the nature of the disease. “A lot of times because, well, you become anxious because you can’t breathe,” he explained. He added that depression occurs because COPD patients spend so much time at home. “They don’t get out, which makes their COPD worse,” he said. Winwood expressed similar sentiments, stating that COPD is an isolating disease with a lot of stigma still attached to it. “COPD is misunderstood by many people,” he said.

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COPD  World News - Week of July 8, 2018

Pot smokers have more respiratory symptoms  

San Francisco, CA - Frequent marijuana use was associated with an increase in respiratory symptoms, including cough, sputum production and wheezing, in a newly published meta-analysis, but the quality of the evidence was poor, researchers reported. They concluded that there was low-strength evidence linking marijuana smoking with the respiratory symptoms in the more than 20 studies included in the analysis and insufficient evidence to link daily marijuana use to changes in pulmonary function or development of obstructive lung disease. "Given rapidly expanding use, we need large-scale longitudinal studies examining the long-term pulmonary effects of daily marijuana use," wrote Mehrnaz Ghasemiesfe, MD, and colleagues, wrote in Annals of Internal Medicine. Ghasemiesfe explained that several previous prospective studies have linked marijuana use with an increased risk for respiratory issues, but evidence of an effect on pulmonary function and obstructive lung disease has been limited by use of marijuana in primarily younger populations. He said the study highlights the limitations of previous research examining marijuana use and pulmonary outcomes, including the lack of standardized use assessment tools and well-defined study designs with robust assessment and adequate follow-up. "Future studies need to focus on middle-aged to older populations who have been heavier marijuana users to identify the potential effects on lung function and developing obstructive lung disease," he said. Ghasemiesfe noted that smoke from burning marijuana contains many of the same toxic gases, particulates and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as cigarette smoke. Ghasemiesfe and colleagues conducted data searches of studies conducted between 1973 and 2018, identifying 22 studies that met their inclusion criteria, including 10 prospective cohort studies and 12 cross-sectional studies. Methods of quantifying marijuana use varied (i.e., as monthly, weekly, or daily). The researchers used the "joint-year" -- the equivalent of one marijuana cigarette a day for 1 year -- as their measure of lifetime exposure. Across all outcomes and studies, 1,255 participants had more than 10 joint-years of exposure and 756 marijuana-only smokers had more than 20 joint-years. Four prospective observational studies and seven cross-sectional studies examined the association between marijuana use and cough, sputum production, wheezing, or dyspnea. One prospective study with moderate risk of bias (ROB) followed a random sample of the population of Tucson, Arizona (n = 1,802), in four sequential surveys from 1981 through 1988, finding current marijuana smoking to be associated with the following: Chronic cough, chronic sputum production, and wheezing. The researchers noted that while the study had strengths (robust exposure assessment and moderate length of follow-up), it presented limited data and could not be included in the pooled analysis. Another prospective study with moderate ROB included participants from Los Angeles, California (n=299), who had smoked a mean of 3.0 (SE 0.4) joints per day for 9.8 years. Baseline exposure assessment was adequate, but half the participants were lost to follow-up. Two prospective studies (low ROB) used the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development cohort of 1,037 children born in New Zealand between 1972 and 1973. Marijuana exposure data were collected several times during 15 years of follow-up. Compared to non-smokers, marijuana users had increased risks for cough (RR 2.04, 95% CI 1.02 to 4.06) and sputum production (RR 3.84, 95% CI 1.62 to 9.07). The studies found that quitting smoking marijuana led to a significant reduction in respiratory symptoms. No relationship was found between marijuana use and impairment of spirometric indices, but the researchers warned that this finding should be interpreted with caution, noting that exposures may have been insufficient to alter pulmonary function test results. "Because obstructive lung disease develops in only about a third of long-term tobacco smokers, is usually not identified until after age 35 or 40 years, and increases in prevalence with age, large cohorts with middle-aged to older populations of heavier marijuana users may be necessary to identify effects on lung function and obstructive lung disease," the researchers wrote. "On the other hand, given the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol and its effect on overall function, few users may have heavy enough exposure to cause significant changes in pulmonary function testing. In other words, marijuana's effect on lung function may not be among its most important health outcomes in the long term."

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COPD World News - Week of July 1, 2018

Small airways disease in mild and moderate COPD  

Vancouver, BC - The concept that small conducting airways less than 2 mm in diameter become the major site of airflow obstruction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is well established in the scientific literature, and the last generation of small conducting airways, terminal bronchioles, are known to be destroyed in patients with very severe COPD. Researchers here aimed to determine whether destruction of the terminal and transitional bronchioles (the first generation of respiratory airways) occurs before, or in parallel with, emphysematous tissue destruction. In this cross-sectional analysis, they applied a novel multiresolution CT imaging protocol to tissue samples obtained using a systematic uniform sampling method to obtain representative unbiased samples of the whole lung or lobe of smokers with normal lung function (controls) and patients with mild COPD (Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease [GOLD] stage 1), moderate COPD (GOLD 2), or very severe COPD (GOLD 4). Patients with GOLD 1 or GOLD 2 COPD and smokers with normal lung function had undergone lobectomy and pneumonectomy, and patients with GOLD 4 COPD had undergone lung transplantation. Lung tissue samples were used for stereological assessment of the number and morphology of terminal and transitional bronchioles, airspace size (mean linear intercept), and alveolar surface area. Of the 34 patients included in this study, ten were controls (smokers with normal lung function), ten patients had GOLD 1 COPD, eight had GOLD 2 COPD, and six had GOLD 4 COPD with centrilobular emphysema. The 34 lung specimens provided 262 lung samples. Compared with control smokers, the number of terminal bronchioles decreased by 40% in patients with GOLD 1 COPD (p=0·014) and 43% in patients with GOLD 2 COPD (p=0·036), the number of transitional bronchioles decreased by 56% in patients with GOLD 1 COPD (p=0·0001) and 59% in patients with GOLD 2 COPD (p=0·0001), and alveolar surface area decreased by 33% in patients with GOLD 1 COPD (p=0·019) and 45% in patients with GOLD 2 COPD (p=0·0021). These pathological changes were found to correlate with lung function decline. We also showed significant loss of terminal and transitional bronchioles in lung samples from patients with GOLD 1 or GOLD 2 COPD that had a normal alveolar surface area. Remaining small airways were found to have thickened walls and narrowed lumens, which become more obstructed with increasing COPD GOLD stage. These data show that small airways disease is a pathological feature in mild and moderate COPD. Importantly, this study emphasises that early intervention for disease modification might be required by patients with mild or moderate COPD.

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COPD World News - Week of June 24, 2018

Effects of exercise training on cognition in COPD

Toronto, ON – As exercise may mitigate cognitive decline in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), its effect has been evaluated in a number of clinical trials. The objective of the present systematic review was to describe the impact of exercise training on cognition in COPD. Electronic searches of four databases were performed from inception until March 24, 2015 and last updated 23rd October 2017. Included studies reported on at least one cognitive outcome before and after a formal exercise-training program in individuals with COPD. Two reviewers independently rated study quality using the Downs and Black checklist. The protocol was registered on PROSPERO (CRD42015017884). Seven articles, representing six exercise interventions in 293 individuals with COPD (55% males, mean age 67 ± 2 year) were included. Although each study documented a significant pre-post training improvement in at least one cognitive domain, the heterogeneity in study design, exercise intervention and cognitive outcome measures among studies precluded a meta-analysis. The only randomized controlled trial available reported an improvement on a letter verbal fluency task in the exercise group only. The researchers concluded that exercise training may positively impact cognition in COPD patients, but current evidence is limited by the heterogeneity of study design, exercise intervention and cognitive outcome measures. Future studies should emphasize comprehensive reporting of intervention parameters, including program length, type(s) of exercise, and duration of individual sessions, in order to facilitate applied insights to inform replication and/or program development. Lead authors of the study are Laura Desveaux, Samantha L. Harrison, Jean-François Gagnon, Roger S. Goldstein and Dina Brooks

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COPD World News - Week of June 17, 2018

End of life strategies among patients with advanced COPD 

Toronto, ON - The burden of advanced COPD is high globally; however, little is known about how often end of life strategies are used by this population. Researchers sought to describe trends in the use of end of life care strategies by people with advanced COPD in Ontario, Canada. A population-based repeated cross-sectional study examining end of life care strategies in individuals with advanced COPD was conducted. Annual proportions of individuals who received formal palliative care, long-term oxygen therapy or opioids from 2004 to 2014 were determined. Results were age- and sex- standardized as well as stratified by age, sex, socioeconomic status, urban/rural residence and immigrant status. There were 151,912 persons with advanced COPD in Ontario between 2004 and 2014. Use of formal palliative care services increased 1% per year from 5.3% in 2004 to 14.3% in 2014 (p value for trend <0.001), while use of long-term oxygen therapy increased 1.1% per year from 26.4% in 2004 to 35.3% in 2013 (p value for trend <0.001). The use of opioids was relatively stable (40.0% in 2004 and 41.8% in 2014, p value for trend=0.08). Younger individuals were less likely to use formal palliative care services and long-term oxygen therapy. Males were less likely than females to receive long-term oxygen therapy and opioids. Researchers concluded that the proportion of people with advanced COPD using end of life strategies, although increasing, remains low. Efforts should focus on increasing access to such strategies as well as educating patients and providers of their benefits. Lead authors of the study were: Gershon AS, Maclagan LC, Luo J, To T, Kendzerska T, Stanbrook MB, Bourbeau J, Etches J, Aaron SD. The study was published in the Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2018; Jun 11

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COPD World News - Week of June 10, 2018

Study looks at hospitalizations due to exacerbations of COPD  

Barcelona, Spain - Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) may suffer episodes of exacerbation (ECOPD) that require hospitalization and worsen their health status, and prognosis. The researchers in this study hypothesized that a detailed interrogation of health-care “big data” databases can provide valuable information to better understand the risk factors and outcomes of these episodes. They investigated four databases of the Catalan health-care system (>8,000,000 registries) to identify patients hospitalized because of ECOPD for the first time (index event) between 2010 and 2012. Analysis was carried forward since the index event until the end of 2014 or the death of the patient. The two years that preceded the index event were also investigated. We identified 17,555 patients, (≥50 years of age) hospitalized because of ECOPD (ICD9 v.9 codes at discharge) for the first time between 2010 and 2012. In this population the researchers observed that: (1) 23% of patients die within a year after being discharged from their first ECOPD hospitalization; (2) in the remaining patients, all-cause mortality was related to the number of re-hospitalizations, particularly with early (<30 days) readmissions; (3) despite this being a ‘respiratory’ cohort, prescription and dispensation of drugs for cardiovascular diseases was higher than for obstructive airway diseases; and, finally, (4) lower winter ambient temperatures are associated with hospital admissions for ECOPD particularly in early re-admitters. They concluded that overall these results indicate under appreciation of the burden of COPD in patients hospitalized for the first time because ECOPD.

COPD World News - Week of June 3, 2018

1-Hour Exercise, 3 Times a Week Boosts Cognition in Older Adults  

Miami, FL - Exercising for 52 hours over a 6-month period may be an optimal dose for cognitive improvement in older adults, a systematic review of 98 randomized clinical trials suggested. Interventions that averaged 52 hours over a span of 6 months -- averaging about an hour, 3 times a week -- were linked to specific cognitive improvements in adults with and without cognitive impairment, reported Joyce Gomes-Osman, PT, PhD, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues in Neurology: Clinical Practice. "The constructs of cognition that were most amenable to exercise were processing speed and executive function," Gomes-Osman said. "This is an encouraging result because those two constructs are among the first that start to go with the aging process. "This is evidence that you can actually turn back the clock of aging in your brain by adopting a regular exercise regimen." Interestingly, statistical associations did not hold for memory improvement, noted Art Kramer, PhD, of Northeastern University in Boston, who was not involved in the study. "Despite the fact that animal studies have found robust memory benefits from exercise, memory benefits were not consistently observed in the human studies that were reviewed." Gomes-Osman's group searched medical databases in December 2016 for randomized controlled trials that tested the effect of exercise on cognition. After a review of 4,612 relevant studies, they included 98 trials with a total of 11,061 participants in their review. Participants had an average age of 73 and 67.58% were female. Of the total sample, 59.41% of participants were classified as older healthy adults, 25.74% had mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 14.85% had dementia. The clinical trials assessed exercises that included walking, biking, dancing, strength training, tai chi, and yoga over spans from 4 weeks to 1 year. Most participants (58.2%) did not exercise regularly before enrolling in a study. Most studies used either high (37.8%) or medium intensity (36.7%) exercise. Aerobic exercise, strength training, mind-body exercises like yoga and tai-chi, and combinations of exercises all were linked to improved cognitive skills in both healthy individuals and those with MCI. Only the total length of time over a 6-month period was linked to improved cognitive skills, not weekly exercise minutes. "Although half of the exercise in the studies we assessed was in support of aerobic exercise, it doesn't mean that aerobic exercise necessarily was more effective," said Gomes-Osman. "It just means that more trials have actually studied aerobic exercise." Within aerobic exercise interventions, the most common exercise was walking, Gomes-Osman noted. "It's encouraging to know that you don't need to be running. If you start walking, you're going to get benefit. But this is not window-shopping; this is walking. It's physical exercise, not just physical activity." Since most participants did not exercise regularly before joining a trial, this data also "strongly supports that decreasing sedentary behavior is something associated with brain health," Gomes-Osman said. The effect of exercise on overall cognition is not clear because so few studies have assessed this, she added. And it's possible that future trials -- ones that compare different types of exercise or evaluate exercise in both physically fit and sedentary people -- may show different results. Nonetheless, some cognitive benefit is clear. "I believe in giving people knowledge about outcomes," Gomes-Osman said. "If you tell people to be active, they may be less interested overall than if you say 'You can do this, this, this, or this, and you need to keep it up a couple times a week for about 6 months, and then you should get a benefit.' I think that's a better sell for patients."

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COPD World News - Week of May 27, 2018

COPD: No 'Obesity Paradox' for BMI >40  

San Diego, CA The apparent "obesity paradox" in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a head-scratcher for physicians: Studies suggest that COPD patients who are overweight and obese have an advantage in terms of both mortality and morbidity. Now, however, a new study finds that COPD patients who are extremely overweight -- i.e., those with a body mass index (BMI) above 40 -- do not gain this benefit. "Our results, combined with the work of others, suggest that BMI is an important factor physicians should consider when evaluating mortality risk in patients with COPD," said Emily Brigham, MD, MHS, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, who presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society. Among the previous data showing that being overweight bestows a survival advantage on COPD patients, she noted, is a 2018 study by Francesco Spelta et al, which found that the effect "is more evident for subjects with severe bronchial obstruction -- i.e., a lower FEV1 -- while in mild-moderate conditions, the weight-related mortality shows a behavior similar to that observed in the general population." Brigham explained. Today that agreement is lacking on whether the obesity paradox is directly related to excess fat. For example, if that was the case, a 2014 study suggested, "clinicians may be tempted to recommend weight gain to their patients." In fact, those authors said, other factors may be more important than weight itself: "Overweight/obese patients tended to have better preserved lung function, muscle mass, and exercise capacity -- all important predictors of mortality in this disease." For the study by Brigham and colleagues, the team examined data from the SUMMIT trial, a double-blind, randomized controlled study that examined the use of fluticasone furoate and vilanterol in adults with moderate COPD and cardiac risk. A total of 16,485 adults from 43 nations were included, all with histories of smoking at least 10 packs a day. "As expected, the majority of mortality was attributable to cardiovascular causes," Brigham said. "This held true in all BMI categories." The study found that underweight patients (i.e., with a BMI < 20) had a higher mortality rate compared with those of normal weight (BMI 20-25) at HR 1.31, 95% CI, 1.04-1.64. Those with with BMI > 40 also had a mortality disadvantage (HR 1.36, 95% CI, 1.00-1.86). Compared with in the normal weight group, mortality was lower in the overweight group (BMI 25 to 30: HR 0.62, 95% CI, 0.52-0.73) and the two obese groups (BMI 30-35: HR 0.75, 95% CI, 0.62-0.90; and BMI 35-40: HR 0.85, 95% CI, 0.66-1.10). Why might the obesity paradox fade out at higher BMIs? "Higher BMI is associated with a higher prevalence of a number of diseases that contribute to mortality, including metabolic and cardiovascular diseases," Brigham said. "We also know that at the extremes of obesity, lung function is reduced -- something that is particularly consequential in patients with COPD whose lung function is already compromised. It is reasonable to expect that at some threshold the positive effects of BMI in this population will be overwhelmed by the negative health consequences of obesity, as we see here." She cautioned, however, that the study does not prove causality: "Confounding of the relationships we see may still exist. For example, a large number of the participants with low BMI were from Asia, and we couldn't completely account for regional differences that may affect the relationship between BMI and outcomes." Even so, she said, the study has implications for practice. "If I have a patient with moderate COPD in my clinic and known cardiovascular disease or risk factors, I have increased concern about his or her mortality risk when he or she is underweight or has a BMI greater than 40. "Regardless of the underlying lung disease, discussing nutrition and physical activity is an important part of caring for our patients, and sharing the results of studies such as this can provide motivation for change."

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COPD World News - Week of May 20, 2018

Step-Down therapy in severe COPD OK for some   

San Diego, CA - Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) without a high eosinophil burden and who were doing well on triple therapy had no increase in exacerbations when switched to the dual-bronchodilator therapy indacaterol/glycopyrronium (Ultibro Breezhaler) in the randomized, double blind, triple-dummy SUNSET trial reported here. Patients in the study with consistent blood eosinophil counts of 300 μl or above, however, showed significant declines in lung function and increased risk for exacerbation on the fixed-dose dual therapy, suggesting that they are more likely to benefit from continued triple therapy. The study is the first to evaluate the efficacy and safety of direct de-escalation from long-term triple therapy to the once-daily long-acting β2-agonist (LABA)/long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) treatment in patients with moderate-to-severe COPD who do not have frequent exacerbations. Findings from the study, funded by Breezhaler's manufacturer, Novartis, were reported this week at ATS 2018, the annual international meeting of the American Thoracic Society, and published simultaneously in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Current GOLD (Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease) recommendations call for the addition of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) to LABA/LAMA as triple therapy in high-risk patients experiencing exacerbations on LABA/LAMA treatment alone. But the long-term use of ICS has been linked to numerous adverse events, including pneumonia, mycobacterial infection, diabetes onset and progression, and osteoporosis. The aim of the study, led by Kenneth Chapman, PhD, of the University of Toronto, was to identify patients who might be able to safely step-down treatment to a LABA/LAMA without ICS. The WISDOM trial showed that in patients with severe to very severe COPD susceptible to exacerbations, the risk of moderate or severe exacerbations was similar in patients who followed a stepwise ICS withdrawal compared with those who continued with ICS. No prior studies evaluating ICS withdrawal in patients on long-term triple therapy in the absence of frequent exacerbations, however, have been reported.

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COPD World News - Week of May 13, 2018

Nova Scotia approves high-dose flu vaccine in long-term care facilities

Halifax, NS – Great news for thousands of Nova Scotians living in long-term care facilities who will have access to a new flu vaccine this fall. The vaccine will provide greater protection for seniors and is expected to reduce hospital stays. The high-dose vaccine is formulated specifically for elderly adults with chronic, complex health conditions. It is four times the strength of the standard vaccine and helps boost immune response. It is significantly more effective than the standard vaccine for the frail elderly. “Nova Scotians living in long-term care facilities have the highest rates of severe illness and hospitalizations from influenza,” said Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey. “By making the high-dose flu vaccine available in our long-term care facilities this year, we’re helping protect those most atrisk.” Government will purchase more than 7,000 doses of the vaccine for adults living in long-term and residential care facilities across Nova Scotia. Evidence suggests immunizing all long-term care residents with the vaccine could result in about 100 fewer hospital stays. Adults 65 and older represent only 15 per cent of the Canadian population, but experience 67 per cent of influenza-related complications and 88 per cent of influenza-related deaths. The H3N2 strain, which is currently the predominant circulating Influenza A strain in Canada, produces particularly severe illness in the elderly. “Because the immune system declines as we age, older adults are more susceptible to influenza even when they are vaccinated – and this is especially true of individuals in long-term care,” said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health. “For the general population, the standard vaccine provides adequate protection against the flu. But evidence shows that for elderly people with multiple chronic conditions, the high-dose vaccine yields better protection and fewer complications from the flu.” Vaccines for the upcoming flu season will be available in the fall. The standard flu vaccine is available to all Nova Scotians free of charge through their care providers, community pharmacies and public health and employer clinics.

Study finds inhaled blood thinner can help ease COPD 

Portsmouth, UK - A blood thinner normally injected into patients at risk of clots can help ease chronic lung diseases when it’s inhaled. Researchers at the University of Portsmouth found that heparin, a drug that has been around for more than 100 years, significantly improves lung function and breathing in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD, which affects around a million people, is an umbrella term for lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis; patients find it difficult to get air in and out of the lungs, partly because the airways become inflamed and narrow. UK scientists have discovered that turning the drug heparin into an aerosol, which can be inhaled through a face mask, can boost patients’ lung function. The main cause is smoking, but pollution and genetics have also been implicated. Over time, the walls of the airways thicken and mucus is produced, which worsens symptoms. One of the first signs is a cough, but it eventually causes extreme breathlessness and wheezing. Treatment involves medication, often through nebulizers, to reduce inflammation and allows more oxygen into the lungs, or exercise programs to bolster lung capacity. Now UK scientists have discovered that turning the drug heparin into an aerosol, which can be inhaled through a face mask, can boost patients’ lung function. Heparin is normally used in injection form for patients at risk of a blood clot, such as those who’ve recently had surgery or have a faulty heart rhythm. The drug binds to a protein in the blood which stops it clotting. But research has found the structure of the heparin molecule means it has potential roles in other treatments, according to Janis Shute, a professor of respiratory pharmacology, who led the new study at the University of Portsmouth. For example, a laboratory study found that heparin has mucus-thinning properties, making it potentially useful for helping clear a patient’s airways. Heparin is normally used in injection form for patients at risk of a blood clot, such as those who’ve recently had surgery or have a faulty heart rhythm. To test this, the Portsmouth scientists reformulated heparin into fine particles that could be inhaled as an aerosol and put these particles into a device connected to a mask which contained a propellant gas that would force it into the lungs. In a pilot study involving 40 COPD patients, inhaled heparin was found to boost lung function by at least 10 per cent within days of treatment starting, and this made it significantly easier for patients to breathe in more air, according to a report in the European Respiratory Journal. The patients had the treatment twice a day for three weeks, with each session lasting 15 minutes. Professor Shute said: ‘Heparin thins mucus in the airways, which allows patients to clear their airways more easily, but it also acts as an anti-inflammatory.’ It’s not clear yet whether COPD patients will need to inhale the drug every day, or just when symptoms are particularly bad. The researchers are now planning a trial to see if heparin inhaled daily can benefit patients with cystic fibrosis, the genetic disorder that causes lungs to become seriously congested with mucus. ‘Nothing we have at the moment does anything to the mucus levels, and it’s a huge problem,’ says Jorgen Vestbo, a professor of respiratory medicine at University Hospital South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust.

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COPD World News - Week of May 6, 2018

Tai Chi and pulmonary rehab compared for treatment-naive COPD patients   

Guangzhou, China – In COPD, functional status is improved by pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) but requires specific facilities was the basic assumption of researchers here. Tai Chi, which combines psychological treatment and physical exercise and requires no special equipment, is widely practiced in China and is becoming increasingly popular in the rest of the world. The researchers hypothesized that Tai Chi is equivalent (ie, difference less than ±4 St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire [SGRQ] points) to PR. A total of 120 patients (mean FEV 43.6% predicted) bronchodilator-naive patients were studied. Two weeks after starting indacaterol 150 μg once daily, they randomly received either standard pulmonary rehab thrice weekly or group Tai Chi five times weekly, for 12 weeks. The primary end point was change in SGRQ prior to and following the exercise intervention; measurements were also made 12 weeks after the end of the intervention. The between-group difference for SGRQ at the end of the exercise interventions was –0.48 (95% CI PR vs Tai Chi, –3.6 to 2.6; P = .76), excluding a difference exceeding the minimal clinically important difference. Twelve weeks later, the between-group difference for SGRQ was 4.5 (95% CI, 1.9 to 7.0; P < .001), favoring Tai Chi. Similar trends were observed for 6-min walk distance; no change in FEV1 was observed. The researchers concluded that Tai Chi is equivalent to pulmonary rehab for improving SGRQ in COPD. Twelve weeks after exercise cessation, a clinically significant difference in SGRQ emerged favoring Tai Chi, therefore they stated that Tai Chi is an appropriate substitute for PR. Lead authors of the published study are Michael I. Polkey, PhD of London and Zhi-Hui Qiu, MSc of Guangzhou China. The study was recently released in the journal CHEST.
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COPD World News - Week of April 29, 2018

Antibiotic treatment and the outcomes of exacerbations of asthma and COPD  

Liverpool, UK – Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide, primarily through exacerbations. Exacerbations are often treated with antibiotics but their optimal course duration is uncertain. Reducing antibiotic duration may influence antimicrobial resistance but risks treatment failure. The objective of this article is to review published literature to investigate whether shorter antibiotic therapy duration affects clinical outcomes in the treatment of asthma and COPD exacerbations. We systematically searched electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, World Health Organisation International Clinical Trial Registry Platform, the Cochrane library, and ISRCTN) with no language, location, or time restrictions. We retrieved observational and controlled trials comparing different durations of the same oral antibiotic therapy in the treatment of acute exacerbations of asthma or COPD in adults. We found no applicable studies for asthma exacerbations. We included 10 randomized, placebo-controlled trials for COPD patients, all from high-income countries. The commonest studied antibiotic class was fluoroquinolones. Antibiotic courses shorter than 6 days were associated with significantly fewer overall adverse events (risk ratio (RR): 0.84, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.75–0.93, p = 0.001) when compared with those of 7 or more days. There was no statistically significant difference for clinical success or bacteriological eradication in sputum (RR: 1.00, 95% CI: 0.88–1.13 and RR: 1.06, 95% CI: 0.79–1.44, respectively). Shorter durations of antibiotics for COPD exacerbations do not seem to confer a higher risk of treatment failure but are associated with fewer adverse events. This is in keeping with previous studies in community acquired pneumonia, but studies were heterogeneous and differed from usual clinical practice. Further observational and prospective work is needed to explore the significance of antibiotic duration in the treatment of asthma and COPD exacerbations.

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COPD World News - Week of April 22, 2018

Trial Backs Triple-Drug Inhaler for COPD  

Chapel Hill, NC - Treatment with the first approved once-daily, single inhaler triple therapy for COPD resulted in a significantly lower rate of exacerbations, as well as better lung function and quality of life compared to dual therapy in patients with a history of exacerbations, researchers rep orted.Results from the huge IMPACT trial supported an extra benefit from the GlaxoSmithKline and Innoviva product Trelegy Ellipta -- containing an inhaled corticosteroid, a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) and a long-acting β2-agonist (LABA) -- versus two of GlaxoSmithKline's two-drug inhalers.The trial, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine with GlaxoSmithKline researcher David Lipson, MD, as lead author, showed statistically significant and clinically relevant reductions in COPD exacerbations for the three-drug product. It was noted that that the study design criticized by journal editor. Pulmonary disease specialist James Donohue, MD, of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, said despite several limitations to the study, the robust difference in outcomes between the triple and dual therapy groups was impressive. "The triple treatment was compared to two really good dual combination therapies and it beat both easily," he said. "That was something of a surprise." Donahue, who was not involved with the study, noted that the findings challenge the common belief that treatment with an inhaled steroid adds little value to LAMA-LABA dual therapy. "The idea is that the LAMA-LABA combination is so effective that patients don't need steroids, which have side effects," he said. "The new findings kind of turn things upside down." At the same time, however, an editorial co-written by NEJM's editor-in-chief said the study's design called the results into question. Trelegy Ellipta became the first single inhaler, dry powder treatment for COPD to combine a steroid (fluticasone furoate), LAMA (umeclidinium), and LABA (vilanterol) when it was approved by the FDA last Septe mber. All patients recruited for the IMPACT trial had symptomatic COPD and a history of exacerbations occurring within a year of enrollment. Triple therapy is recommended in the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) treatment guidelines for patients with clinically significant symptoms despite treatment with an inhaled steroid and a LABA or LABA-LAMA combined treatment who have an elevated risk for exacerbations. Lipson and colleagues noted that some controversy remains regarding the relative benefits of triple therapy compared to dual therapy in this patient population.
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COPD World News - Week of April 15, 2018

Observing dyspnoea in others elicits dyspnoea 

Leuven, Belgium - According to a study recently published in the European Respiratory Journal (Vol 51, issue 4) dyspnea (breathlessness) is usually caused by diagnosable cardiorespiratory mechanisms. However, frequently dyspnoea relates only weakly or not at all to cardiorespiratory functioning, suggesting that additional neuro-psychosocial processes contribute to its experience. The researchers tested whether the mere observation of dyspnoea in others constitutes such a process and would elicit dyspnoea, negative affect and increased brain responses in the observer. In three studies, series of pictures and videos were presented, which either depicted persons suffering from dyspnoea or non-dyspnoeic control stimuli. Self-reports of dyspnoea and affective state were obtained in all studies. Additionally, respiratory variables and brain responses during picture viewing (late positive potentials in electroencephalograms) were measured in one study. In all studies, dyspnoea-related pictures and videos elicited mild-to-moderate dyspnoea and increased negative affect compared to control stimuli. This was paralleled by increased late positive potentials for dyspnoea-related pictures while respiratory variables did not change. Moreover, increased dyspnoea correlated modestly with higher levels of empathy in observers. The present results demonstrate that observing dyspnoea in others elicits mild-to-moderate dyspnoea, negative affect, and increased brain responses in the absence of respiratory changes. This vicarious dyspnoea has clinical relevance, as it might increase suffering in the family and medical caregivers of dyspnoeic patients.

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COPD World News - Week of April 8, 2018

Antibiotic treatment and the outcomes of exacerbations of COPD   

Liverpool, UK – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease causes significant morbidity and mortality worldwide, primarily through exacerbations. Exacerbations are often treated with antibiotics but their optimal course duration is uncertain. Reducing antibiotic duration may influence antimicrobial resistance but risks treatment failure. The objective of this article is to review published literature to investigate whether shorter antibiotic therapy duration affects clinical outcomes in the treatment of asthma and COPD exacerbations. The researchers systematically searched electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, World Health Organisation International Clinical Trial Registry Platform, the Cochrane library, and ISRCTN) with no language, location, or time restrictions. They retrieved observational and controlled trials comparing different durations of the same oral antibiotic therapy in the treatment of acute exacerbations of asthma or COPD in adults. They found no applicable studies for asthma exacerbations. The researchers included 10 randomized, placebo-controlled trials for COPD patients, all from high-income countries. The commonest studied antibiotic class was fluoroquinolones. Antibiotic courses shorter than 6 days were associated with significantly fewer overall adverse events (risk ratio (RR): 0.84, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.75–0.93, p = 0.001) when compared with those of 7 or more days. There was no statistically significant difference for clinical success or bacteriological eradication in sputum (RR: 1.00, 95% CI: 0.88–1.13 and RR: 1.06, 95% CI: 0.79–1.44, respectively). Shorter durations of antibiotics for COPD exacerbations do not seem to confer a higher risk of treatment failure but are associated with fewer adverse events. This is in keeping with previous studies in community acquired pneumonia, but studies were heterogeneous and differed from usual clinical practice. Further observational and prospective work is needed to explore the significance of antibiotic duration in the treatment of asthma and COPD exacerbations.  

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COPD World News - Week of April 1, 2018

High COPD assessment test (CAT) score may predict anxiety  

Perth, Australia - The prevalence of anxiety in patients with COPD is estimated to be 55%. And, the anxiety is associated with worse disease control. Researchers here questioned whether early recognition and institution of treatment of this comorbidity could significantly improve patient’s quality of life. Recently, a questionnaire called the COPD assessment test (CAT) has been incorporated into the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines for the management of COPD, and a higher score is associated with increased COPD symptoms. Considering the regular use of CAT, it was evaluated whether this tool can also be used to identify anxiety. The CAT score was correlated with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) to determine the level at which CAT may predict anxiety.Materials and methods. This particular study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Royal Perth Hospital (HREC study 2012/055), with a waiver given for patient consent. All patient data remained confidential. Clinical data were collected from 100 patients with confirmed COPD, who attended the COPD outreach clinic, of whom 78 patients completed spirometry. COPD severity was graded according to the GOLD criteria, and the CAT and HADS scores were collected on 2 consecutive consultations separated by 6 months with a 100% completion rate. The severity of the cohort was classified as GOLD 1 (2 patients), GOLD 2 (29 patients), GOLD 3 (39 patients) and GOLD 4 (8 patients). A total of 45 patients had clinically significant anxiety on the first visit and 38 patients on the second visit as per HADS. The prevalence of anxiety in COPD GOLD 1 is 0%, GOLD 2 is 45% (13), GOLD 3 is 56% (22) and GOLD 4 is 38% (3) in visit 1. Data from the second visit were similar, apart from the decreased prevalence in GOLD 3 (13, 43%) and the increased prevalence in GOLD 4 (6, 67%). This study suggests that anxiety must be specifically investigated in COPD patients, especially with a CAT score of ≥20. Further analysis with a larger sample size should further evaluate the value of CAT score correlation with anxiety in COPD patients.

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COPD World News - Week of March 25, 2018

No decrease in outpatient antibiotic prescribing in over 3 years  

Washington, DC - Outpatient antibiotic prescribing in the United States remained unchanged over a 3-year period despite efforts to limit inappropriate antimicrobial use, according to researchers. The data, w hich include only prescriptions for insured patients and do not show use of antibiotics by the uninsured, show that further efforts are needed to control antibiotic use in the context of resistance, they wrote in Infection “The findings of this study are concerning but more than anything, they give us important insight into the ongoing challenges of getting health care providers to change their prescribing habits to help prevent antibiotic resistance,” Keith Kaye, MD, MPH, president of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, told Infectious Disease News. “While the resources and investments made to identify and raise awareness regarding overuse of antibiotics are important, they are not enough.” To assess levels of prescribing in the outpatient setting, researcher Michael J. Durkin, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of antibiotic prescriptions made between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2015, using an Express Scripts Holding company database of insured members. The researchers found about 98 million outpatient prescriptions filled by 39 million patients. The most commonly prescribed drugs were amoxicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, azithromycin, cephalexin and ciprofloxacin. They also found that rates of prescriptions varied significantly by season because antibiotics were much more likely to be prescribed in February than they were to be prescribed in September, with a peak-to-trough ratio (PTTR) of 1.42 (95% CI, 1.39-1.61). Similarly, azithromycin (PTTR = 2.46; 95% CI, 2.44-3.47), amoxicillin (PTTR = 1.52; 95% CI, 1.42-1.89) and amoxicillin/clavulanate (PTTR = 1.78; 95% CI, 1.68-2.29) had peaks and troughs in February and August. The common use of those three drugs in winter could be partly appropriate, the researchers said, because diseases like pneumonia are more prevalent then. Likewise, peak use of cephalexin and ciprofloxacin in the summer, when urinary tract infections and skin and soft tissue infections are more common, could be partly appropriate. However, Durkin and colleagues also cited literature suggesting that wintertime prescription increases could be due to inappropriate antibiotic use for viral infections. Even so, the researchers said current efforts to control antibiotic use are falling short. Durkin suggested that health care systems abide by the CDC Core Elements of Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship, meant to educate caregivers on the topic. The Core Elements also include recommendations for accountability in prescribing, enacting policies to improve antibiotic prescribing, and tracking and reporting antibiotic unitization to providers. Even measures as simple as having posters promoting stewardship can bring about improvement, the researchers noted. Although interventions and their effectiveness vary, Durkin and colleagues said further research on antibiotic prescribing is needed, along with further efforts at convincing providers to be better stewards.“Additional work is needed to better link antibiotic prescriptions to indications to better quantify and trend inappropriate antibiotic prescribing practices,” they wrote. “However, in our opinion, additional interventions, beyond guidelines and educational materials, will be required to substantially improve antibiotic prescribing at a national level

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COPD World News - Week of March 18, 2018

Ontario expands OHIP+ to include seniors

Toronto, ON - Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Ontario's plan to make prescription drugs free for people 65 and over, ensuring millions of people can afford the care they need during this period of economic change and uncertainty. Through an expansion of OHIP+, more than 4,400 prescription drugs will be available free of charge to everyone 65 and over. The Premier was joined by Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Helena Jaczek and Minister of Seniors Affairs Dipika Damerla at the Leaside Curling Club to lay out the government's plan to expand OHIP+ and make life more affordable for 2.6 million seniors and their families. Starting August 1, 2019, anyone aged 65 or older will no longer have to pay a deductible or co-payment and would be able to present their eligible prescription and OHIP number at any Ontario pharmacy and receive their medication for free. On January 1, 2018, Ontario introduced OHIP+ Children and Youth Pharmacare, which made eligible prescription drugs free for everyone 24 and under and is the largest expansion of medicare in a generation. By expanding OHIP+ to seniors in Budget 2018, people 65 and over will now save an average of $240 every year. Prescription drugs covered by this program include medications for cholesterol, hypertension, thyroid conditions, diabetes and asthma. Today's announcement builds on steps taken to improve care and make life more affordable for seniors in Ontario. The announcement confirms the government’s promise to cover the costs of a high-dose flu vaccine beginning in time for the 2018 – 2019 flu season. Making prescription drugs free for people 65 and over is part of the government's plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

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COPD World News - Week of March 11, 2018

End-of-life care in a patients’ home can reduce the risk of dying in hospital   

Toronto, ON - Most Ontarians want to die at home, but despite this nearly 70 per cent die in hospitals or long-term care facilities. A new study from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) shows end-of-life care like doctor house calls or in-home palliative care could reduce the chance of dying in hospital by about 50 per cent. Yet, fewer than 1 in 5 Ontarians receive doctor house calls or palliative home care in their last year of life “Our research has shown that end-of-life care in a patients’ home can dramatically reduce the risk of dying in hospital,” says Dr. Peter Tanuseputro, the lead author of the study, adjunct scientist at ICES, researcher at the Bruyère Research Institute and a staff physician at division of palliative care at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. The study is the largest of its kind to show the effect of doctor home visits on where people die. Using secure patient health records housed at ICES, the researchers looked at 264,755 Ontario decedents from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2013 and found receiving doctor house calls for end-of-life care reduces the chance of dying in hospital by about 50 per cent and receiving palliative home care also reduces the chance of dying in hospital by about 50 per cent. “Most people would be able to die at home if they had the supports in place to make that happen. Unfortunately, in most areas across Canada, it’s quite arbitrary who gets palliative care in the home, depending on factors like if your family doctor does home visits, what neighborhood you live in, and what you’re dying of. Canada remains in the back of the pack in developed nations in terms of the percentage who die in hospital,” says Tanuseputro. The researchers found less than one in five Ontarians receive doctor house calls or palliative home care in their last year of life. “Our research points to the need for a structured palliative care strategy across the province to ensure people have a choice of dying in their homes, and not in hospitals, if they wish. As it stands now, who can access home palliative care really varies across Ontario,” adds Tanuseputro. About 38 per cent of physicians in Ontario deliver palliative care, and only a small minority of those doctors provides home visits. Only one in five palliative care encounters happen in patients’ homes. Tanuseputro points to other studies that his group has done that show patients with certain diagnoses, like cancer, and those who live in wealthier neighborhoods have a much higher chance of getting a home visit. “Associations between physician home visits for dying and place of death: a population-based retrospective cohort study” was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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COPD World News - Week of March 4, 2018

New-found stem cell helps regenerate lung tissue after acute injury  

Philadelphia, PA - Researchers have identified a lung stem cell that repairs the organ's gas exchange compartment, according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. They isolated and characterized these progenitor cells from mouse and human lungs and demonstrated they are essential to repairing lung tissue damaged by severe influenza and other respiratory ailments. The research, led by Edward E. Morrisey, PhD, a professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, was published the journal Nature. Morrisey is also director of the Penn Center for Pulmonary Biology and scientific director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The development of the lung, or pulmonary system, is an evolutionary adaption to life on land. Lungs are essential in most large animals for a terrestrial existence. Their complex structure, which is dictated in part by their integration with the cardiovascular system, makes them an interesting yet difficult organ to study from a regeneration medicine perspective. In addition, lung disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world, surpassed only by cardiovascular disease and cancer. "One of the most important places to better understand lung regeneration is in the alveoli, the tiny niches within the lung where oxygen is taken up by the blood and carbon dioxide is exhaled," Morrisey said. "To better understand these delicate structures, we have been mapping the different types of cells within the alveoli. Understanding cell-cell interactions should help us discover new players and molecular pathways to target for future therapies." The Nature study examined the epithelial cells that line the surfaces of lung gas-exchange alveoli for stem cell behavior that could restore normal respiratory function after severe injury caused by an influenza infection or in such diseases as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). While some organs, such as the intestine, turn over the entire epithelial lining every five days through the activity of a resident stem-cell lineage, organs such as the lung exhibit very slow turnover and contain stem cells that are activated only upon injury to regenerate the damaged tissue. The team identified an alveolar epithelial progenitor (AEP) lineage which is embedded in a larger population of cells called alveolar type 2 cells, or AT2s. These cells generate pulmonary surfactant (a wetting agent), which keeps the lungs from collapsing upon every breath taken. "AEPs are a stable lineage in the lung and turn over very slowly, but expand rapidly after injury to regenerate the lining of the alveoli and restore gas exchange," said co-first author Will Zacharias, MD, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Morrisey's lab. David B. Frank, MD, PhD, a pediatric cardiologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, is the other co-first author. AEPs exhibit their own distinct suite of genes and contain a unique epigenetic signature. The Morrisey lab used the genomic information gained from mouse AEPs to identify a conserved cell surface protein called TM4SF1 that can be used to isolated AEPs from the human lung. Using this ability to isolate mouse and human AEPs, the team then generated David B. Frank three-dimensional lung organoids. "From our organoid culture system, we were able to show that AEPs are an evolutionarily conserved alveolar progenitor that represents a new target for human lung regeneration strategies," Morrisey said. The team has access to more than 300 lungs through the lung transplant program headed by Edward Cantu, MD, an associate professor of Surgery. For their next study, the team aims to investigate influenza-damaged lung tissue as well as other lung disease models to determine where and when AEPs increase in response to acute lung injury or more chronic disease states. Given the severity of the current influenza season, these studies provide new insight into how the human lung regenerates and identifies novel genetic and epigenetic pathways important for lung regeneration. The team is now exploring which of these molecular pathways may promote AEP function in the mouse and human lung, including understanding whether drugs designed to activate Fgf signaling, one of the key pathways conserved in mouse and human AEPs, may promote lung regeneration. "We are very excited at this novel finding," said James P. Kiley, PhD, director of the Division of Lung Diseases at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which supported the study. "Basic studies are fundamental stepping stones to advance our understanding of lung regeneration. Furthermore, the NHLBI support of investigators from basic to translational science helps promote collaborations that bring the field closer to regenerative strategies for both acute and chronic lung diseases."

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COPD World News - Week of February 25, 2018

Smoking rates in US remain at 15.5%   

Atlanta, GA - The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that the burden of death and disease from tobacco use in the United States is overwhelmingly caused by cigarettes and other combusted tobacco products (1). Cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. adults, and about 480,000 U.S. deaths per year are caused by cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke exposure (1). To assess progress toward the Healthy People 2020 target of reducing the proportion of U.S. adults aged ≥18 years who smoke cigarettes to ≤12.0% (objective TU-1.1),* CDC analyzed data from the 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). In 2016, the prevalence of current cigarette smoking among adults was 15.5%, which was a significant decline from 2005 (20.9%); however, no significant change has occurred since 2015 (15.1%). In 2016, the prevalence of cigarette smoking was higher among adults who were male, aged 25–64 years, American Indian/Alaska Native or multiracial, had a General Education Development (GED) certificate, lived below the federal poverty level, lived in the Midwest or South, were uninsured or insured through Medicaid, had a disability/limitation, were lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), or had serious psychological distress. During 2005–2016, the percentage of ever smokers who quit smoking increased from 50.8% to 59.0%. Proven population-based interventions are critical to reducing the health and economic burden of smoking-related diseases among U.S. adults, particularly among sub-populations with the highest smoking prevalence. NHIS is an annual, nationally representative in-person survey of the non-institutionalized U.S. civilian population. The NHIS core questionnaire is administered to a randomly selected adult in the household (the sample adult). In 2016, the NHIS was administered to 33,028 adults aged ≥18 years; the response rate was 54.3%. Current cigarette smokers were respondents who reported having smoked ≥100 cigarettes during their lifetime and were smoking every day or some days at the time of interview. Former smokers were respondents who reported having smoked ≥100 cigarettes during their lifetime but were not smoking at the time of interview. The mean number of cigarettes smoked per day was calculated among daily smokers. Quit ratios were defined as the ratio of former smokers to ever smokers (i.e., persons who had smoked ≥100 cigarettes during their lifetime).

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COPD World News - Week of February 18, 2018

The influence of psychiatric disorders on lung cancer, COPD and TB    

Aarhus, Denmark - This Danish study evaluated the association between psychiatric comorbidity and the course of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and tuberculosis (TB) of an entire nation. Data from the Danish National Patient Registry (1998–2009), material status, gender, educational level, comorbidities, age at diagnosis and death, medication, and causes of death were extracted from national databases. The researchers identified 71,874 patients with COPD and found 32,282 with a pre-index psychiatric comorbidity, 20,787 patients with lung cancer and found 8406 with a pre-index psychiatric comorbidity, and 3495 patients with TB and found 797 with a pre-index psychiatric morbidity. Within the three groups the researchers compared the patients with/without a pre-index psychiatric comorbidity. The researchers found a reduced survival in patients with COPD or TB and a pre-existing psychiatric comorbidity. For all three pulmonary diseases, they found significantly higher age (p < .001) at time of diagnosis, higher Deyo-Charlson Comorbidity Index and an overrepresentation of singles in patients with a psychiatric comorbidity. COPD and lung cancer patients with a psychiatric comorbidity were significantly overrepresented by women. Patients with COPD and a psychiatric comorbidity died most frequently of lung cancer (24%). Advancing age and Deyo-Charlson index were associated with a higher mortality rate whereas being a woman and married/co-habiting yielded a lower mortality rate for patients with a psychiatric comorbidity. The authors of the study concluded that to the best of their knowledge, this is the first epidemiological study investigating the influence of a psychiatric comorbidity on the course of COPD, lung cancer and TB at a national level. Their results emphasize the importance of detecting these major respiratory diseases in patients with psychiatric comorbidities and intensifying the treatment and follow up of these patients. Lead authors of the study is Melina Gade Sikjaer, Anders Lokke and Ole Hilberg of Aarhus University Hospital.

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COPD World News - Week of February 11, 2018

GSK voluntarily recalls Ventolin Diskus in Canada 

Mississauga, ON – On February 16th, GlaxoSmithKline Canada (GSK) announced that they are voluntarily recalling one lot (Lot 786G of VENTOLIN DISKUS 200mcg) in Canada. According to GSK they are taking this action after becoming aware of a manufacturing issue that may result in a small number of VENTOLIN DISKUS devices not delivering the full number of doses in the device. No adverse events have been reported as a result of this manufacturing issue. Their news release emphasized that patient safety remains their absolute priority and that they are taking this issue very seriously. GSK asks patients with VENTOLIN DISKUS to check the lot details on their device. The lot number is contained on the bottom of the VENTOLIN DISKUS cardboard package (4 characters after the word “lot”) or in the centre of the device (similarly 4 characters after the word “lot”). VENTOLIN DISKUS devices carrying the recalled lot number 786G should be returned to the local pharmacy where the device was purchased - for replacement. VENTOLIN metered dose inhalers, commonly referred to as “puffers” (tradename “VENTOLIN HFA”) are not affected by this issue and patients can continue to use as prescribed by their healthcare professional. GSK states that they have carried out a thorough investigation and the root cause of the issue has been corrected.

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Many smokers are not honest about quitting   

Kansas City, KA - Almost half (40%) of recently hospitalized smokers enrolled in smoking cessation trials fail biochemical verification of self-reported abstinence from smoking, according to a recent study published in the journal Addiction and summarized on-line by MDLinx. “Participants may feel pressure to say they have quit when they have not, so it is essential in studies to verify claims of quitting using an objective test such as cotinine to know true quit rates,” said lead author Taneisha Scheuermann, PhD, researcher, University of Kansas Cancer Center, Kansas City, KA. In the body, nicotine is converted into cotinine by the liver. Measuring cotinine via saliva sampling is a highly accurate measure of whether someone has smoked in the past few days. Dr. Scheuermann and fellow researchers conducted this study, therefore, to estimate the prevalence and possible predictors of failed biochemical verification of self-reported smoking abstinence in subjects enrolled in trials of hospital-initiated smoking cessation interventions. They compared characteristics in subjects who verified, and those who failed to verify, self-reported smoking cessation. They included 1,178 recently hospitalized smokers reporting tobacco abstinence for 6 months after randomization, who provided a saliva sample for verification, and who were enrolled in multi-site randomized clinical trials performed between 2010 and 2014 in hospitals throughout the US. Adequate saliva samples were returned by 822 subjects, who reported that they had quit smoking for the past 7 days. In all, 57.8% of subjects were verified as quitting when the 10 ng/mL cut-off was used and 60.6% were verified at the 15 ng/mL cut-off). Researchers found that the factors independently associated with verification at the 10 ng/mL cut-off included education beyond high school, continuous abstinence since hospitalization, mailed vs in-person sample and race. African American subjects were less likely to verify abstinence compared with white subjects. These findings were similar for verification at the 15 ng/mL cut-off, and verification rates did not differ by treatment group. Misreporting may have been even higher, as 18.6% of subjects who said they had quit smoking did not reply, despite multiple attempts and an offer of $50 to $100 for providing a sample. Yet Dr. Scheuermann noted that the most important tool in helping smokers quit is not a biological test, but rather, the patient-provider relationship. Providers must recognize how difficult overcoming an addiction can be. “Providers can create a non-judgmental, collaborative atmosphere that will help smokers better engage in the treatment process and discuss when they slip and smoke. They should tell patients that they know it’s hard to quit, and that they’re prepared to help patients change medications and sources of support until they get the right combination—the one that helps the patient quit,” she said. Still, if patients do not accurately report their tobacco habits, providers cannot provide the best care. “It’s hard to quit smoking. Slips and relapses are part of the normal process for quitting. We encourage smokers to be open with their health care providers about their struggles to quit. Providers can help them switch tactics to figure out the best strategy to help them quit for good,” Dr. Scheuermann concluded.

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COPD World News - Week of February 4, 2018

Researchers confirm link between flu and heart attack 

Toronto, ON - In the study published in the January 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers found a significant association between acute respiratory infections, particularly influenza, and acute myocardial infarction. The risk may be higher for older adults, patients with influenza B infections, and patients experiencing their first heart attack. The researchers also found elevated risk – albeit not as high as for influenza – with infection from other respiratory viruses. “Our findings, combined with previous evidence that influenza vaccination reduces cardiovascular events and mortality, support international guidelines that advocate for influenza immunization in those at high risk of heart attacks,” says Kwong. The researchers looked at nearly 20,000 Ontario adult cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza infection from 2009 to 2014 and identified 332 patients who were hospitalized for a heart attack within one year of a laboratory-confirmed influenza diagnosis. “People at risk of heart disease should take precautions to prevent respiratory infections, and especially influenza, through measures including vaccinations and handwashing,” says Kwong. The researchers add that patients should not delay medical evaluation for heart symptoms particularly within the first week of an acute respiratory infection. The author block includes: Kwong JC, Schwartz KL, Campitelli MA, Chung H, Crowcroft NS, Karnauchow T, Katz K, Ko DT, McGeer AJ, McNally D, Richardson D, Rosella LC, Simor A, Smieja M, Zahariadis G, Gubbay JB. The article is titled, “Acute myocardial infarction after laboratory-confirmed influenza infection”

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COPD World News - Week of January 28, 2018

Smoking duration provides stronger risk estimate of COPD than pack-years    

London, UK – Researchers here stated that cigarette smoking is the strongest risk factor for COPD. Smoking burden is frequently measured in pack-years, but the relative contribution of cigarettes smoked per day versus duration towards the development of structural lung disease, airflow obstruction and functional outcomes is not known. The researchers analysed cross-sectional data from a large multicentre cohort (COPDGene) of current and former smokers. Primary outcome was airflow obstruction (FEV1/FVC); secondary outcomes included five additional measures of disease: FEV1, CT emphysema, CT gas trapping, functional capacity (6 min walk distance, 6MWD) and respiratory morbidity (St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire, SGRQ). Generalised linear models were estimated to compare the relative contribution of each smoking variable with the outcomes, after adjustment for age, race, sex, body mass index, CT scanner, centre, age of smoking onset and current smoking status. We also estimated adjusted means of each outcome by categories of pack-years and combined groups of categorised smoking duration and cigarettes/day, and estimated linear trends of adjusted means for each outcome by categorised cigarettes/day, smoking duration and pack-years. Results were based on 10,187 subjects. For FEV1/FVC, standardised beta coefficient for smoking duration was greater than for cigarettes/day and pack-years. After categorisation, there was a linear increase in adjusted means FEV1/FVC with increase in pack-years and duration over all ranges of smoking cigarettes/day but a relatively flat slope for cigarettes/day across all ranges of smoking duration. Strength of association of duration was similarly greater than pack-years for emphysema, gas trapping, FEV1, 6MWD and SGRQ. The researchers concluded that smoking duration alone provides stronger risk estimates of COPD than the composite index of pack-years. The study was recently published in the British Thoracic Society’s journal Thorax.

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COPD World News - Week of January 21, 2018

Respimat inhaler awarded Arthritis Foundation’s ease of use commendation  

Ridgefield, CT - The Arthritis Foundation has recently recognized Respimat by awarding the inhaler an ease of use commendation. “The Arthritis Foundation awards its Ease of Use Commendation when a product’s design or packaging has been proven to make taking medication easy and comfortable for people living with arthritis,” said Cindy McDaniel, Senior Vice President, Consumer Health, Arthritis Foundation. “To earn this Commendation, the Respimat inhaler went through a series of evaluations from experts and people living with arthritis.” The Respimat inhaler was designed to deliver the medication through a slow-moving mist, which gets medicine deep into patients’ lungs. The slow-moving mist of the Respimat inhaler provides patients with enough time to breathe in the medication. In addition, the Respimat inhaler operates independent of inspiratory effort, helping patients effectively breathe the medicine into their lungs without having to sharply inhale the medicine. As with all inhaled drugs, the actual amount of drug delivered to the lung may depend on patient factors, such as coordination between actuation of the inhaler and inspiration through the delivery system. The duration of inhalation should be at least as long as the spray duration (1.5 seconds). To earn the Ease of Use Commendation, the Respimat inhaler was independently tested by experts at the Intuitive Design Applied Research Institute(link is external) lab in Atlanta and evaluated by people with arthritis. “We are proud of our Respimat inhaler as being the first and only inhaler recognized by the Arthritis Foundation as easy-to-use for everyone,” said Jean-Michel Boers, president, Human Pharma, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “For nearly a century, we have been committed to advancing care for serious respiratory diseases, and the Respimat inhaler is an important achievement as part of this long-standing commitment.” Boehringer Ingelheim’s Respimat family of products includes four FDA-approved medicines for COPD as well as one for asthma.

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Genetic Lung Variants May Identify COPD Risk  

New York, NY - Genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could potentially identify smokers at high risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), researchers reported. Inherited lung central airway branch variants were identified in about a quarter of the study population using CT scanning, and the most commonly seen variant was associated with higher COPD and chronic bronchitis prevalence in smokers and nonsmokers, according to Benjamin M. Smith, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues. The second most common airway branch variant was associated with higher COPD risk among smokers, but not non-smokers they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The central airway tree develops early in life," Smith said. "We found that central airway branch variants, which are easily detected with standard clinical CT, were associated with higher odds of COPD later in life. These findings suggest that the central airway tree may be a useful biomarker to identify people at higher or lower COPD risk." James Kiley, MD, director of the division of lung diseases at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, noted that the findings raise interesting questions for researchers. "Understanding precisely why these genes influence the development of COPD may lead to entirely new and more effective ways of preventing or treating this disease," Kiley noted in a press statement. "This novel study suggests that a CT scan, which is widely available, can be used to measure airway structure and predict who is at higher risk for smoke-induced lung injury." Other than smoking risk, susceptibility to COPD is poorly understood. "Cigarette smoking is the major COPD risk factor, but COPD is not rare among those who have never smoked cigarettes and many smokers do not develop COPD," Smith's group wrote. "Furthermore, approximately half of older adults with COPD exhibit low lung function early in life. These observations suggest that host factors beyond smoking may contribute to COPD risk and may create opportunities for personalized disease prevention and treatment." Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several genes that regulate tracheobronchial tree formation in utero, which may influence susceptibility to COPD and other lung diseases, they noted. Smith's demonstrated that lower-lobe segmental airway branch variants were common among participants in the large Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Lung Study, which included both non-smokers and current and former smokers.

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COPD World News - Week of January 14, 2018

Hamilton hospitals over capacity as flu season surges

Hamilton, ON - Emergency rooms in Hamilton are over capacity, as local hospitals feel the strain of flu season spreading through the city. Health officials across the country are reporting higher than normal lab-confirmed cases of the flu. Hamilton has mostly dodged that bullet, local officials say, with numbers sitting in the mid-level range for what the city usually experiences around this time of year. The face of health-care cuts were illustrated as a grandmother dies and while no paramedics were available to help Flu activity in Canada 'high' and continuing to rise, latest public health numbers say. But even without a larger-than-normal spike, hospitals are still over capacity, says Ian Preyra, chief of emergency medicine at St. Joseph's Hamilton. St. Joes is currently 28 beds over capacity due to the surge. "When we're over capacity, it's not just a number. People really feel it," Preyra said. "It means those ambulances can't be offloaded, patients may wait longer, and patients who are admitted to hospital may wait to find a bed." As is the norm when hospitals are crowded, code zero ambulance events — which is when there is only one or fewer ambulances across the service's entire fleet available for a call — have spiked. There have been 16 code zeros in Hamilton already this month, only halfway through January. Code zero ambulance events have spiked in January during flu season, city statistics show. (CBC) Last year there were 21 code zero events in all of January, and that was the highest number for a single month in the whole year. The union representing local paramedics has long said code zeros are dangerous. Union officials say they're caused by a surge in call volumes for help, coupled with increasingly long wait times offloading patients in local hospitals. Hamilton Health Sciences is operating over capacity too, said spokesperson Lillian Badzioch in an email. "Our adult medical/surgical bed occupancy rate has been consistently over 105 per cent since October 2016 and was 114 per cent yesterday (Jan. 15)," she wrote. Emergency department physicians have also identified that there has been an increase in overall respiratory complaints and that overall volume has gone up, she said. In the first week of January there were 44 lab-confirmed cases of flu in Hamilton, according to the city. There were 19 the week before, in the last week of 2017. That's a middle-of-the-road situation for what Hamilton sees most years, said Dr. Ninh Tran, associate medical officer of health. "That will give us a sense as to if the trend is going up," Tran said. While Hamilton's numbers remain relatively steady, the number of people stricken by flu continues to rise across the country, with 15,572 laboratory-confirmed cases for the season to date.

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COPD World News - Week of January 7, 2018

Study suggests dietary antioxidants slow lung function decline  

Hamburg and Erfurt in Germany; Ipswich and Norwich in the UK; and Bergen in Norway - The relationship between lung function decline and dietary antioxidants over 10 years in adults from three European countries was investigated. Adults from three participating countries of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) answered a questionnaire and underwent spirometry (forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC)), which were repeated 10 years later. Dietary intake was estimated at baseline with food frequency questionnaires (FFQ). Associations between annual lung function decline (mL) and diet were examined with multivariable analyses. A total of 680 individuals (baseline mean age 43.8±6.6 years) were included. A controlled increase in apple and banana intake was associated with a 3.59 mL·year−1 (95% CI 0.40, 7.68) and 3.69 mL·year−1 (95% CI 0.25, 7.14) slower decline in FEV1 and FVC, respectively. Tomato intake was also associated with a slower decline in FVC (4.5 mL·year−1; 95% CI 1.28, 8.02). Subgroup analyses showed that apple, banana and tomato intake were all associated with a slower decline in FVC in ex-smokers. Intake of fruits and tomatoes might delay lung function decline in adults, particularly in ex-smokers. One limitation of the study is that the researchers only had dietary assessments at baseline on one occasion for the three countries. They had to assume that diet remained relatively constant in adult life, and evidence for this exists. Investigations of the association between single nutrients and disease might not accurately reflect a specific dietary habit or dietary behaviour, as neither foods, nor nutrients are consumed in isolation. Information on nutrient supplementation was not collected, and we cannot rule out whether adjustment for this might have altered estimates. However, studies on nutrient supplementation and lung function have shown little evidence of an association. In conclusion, the study suggests that dietary factors might play a role in preserving ventilatory function in adults, by slowing down a decline in lung function. In particular, dietary antioxidants possibly contribute to restoration, following damage caused by exposure to smoking, among adults who have quit. The study was published in a recent edition of the European Respiratory Journal.

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