A group of researchers from GlaxoSmithKline R&D, the research and development arm of the global healthcare company, recently conducted a study testing the frequency of and factors associated with dyspnoea, or shortness of breath, in patients diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to a report on their findings in Lung Disease News, 46 percent of the more than 49,000 patients studied had moderate-to-severe dyspnoea and 36 percent of the 49,000 showed signs of mild airflow obstruction, which is defined as abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to harmful particles in the air.
Researchers found that those with even mild dyspnoea are at “high risk for exacerbations and increased disease severity during follow-ups.” Other risk factors include “female gender, old age, obesity, previous moderate-to-severe exacerbations and the need to see a general practitioner frequently.”
While the findings are consistent with previous observational studies, this specific study found a consistent relationship between dyspnoea and airflow obstruction, meaning those with moderate-to-severe dyspnoea were also at a higher and more frequent risk for air flow limitation. The study also concluded that “the presence of dyspnoea in patients with COPD was associated with markers of greater disease severity and increased risk of poor outcomes.”
While patients may have no control over their diagnoses, COPD sufferers can combat the associated factors, such as obesity, in an effort to limit the frequency of dyspnoea.