According to a recent observational study, regular aspirin use is associated with a slowing of the progression of subclinical emphysema. The results, which still need to be confirmed by a prospective study, give hope to many suffering from emphysema as a potential treatment and, if confirmed, would be the only known treatment for the condition.
Carrie Aaron, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City led the study and noted “a number of animal studies showing that endothelial damage contributes to the development of emphysema, and there are lung biopsies in humans showing areas of emphysema where the capillaries are destroyed”. Aaron and her research team began their study in the hope that aspirin has the potential to counter emphysema by “inhibiting platelet activation, reducing inflammation, or altering blood flow in pulmonary capillaries”.
The team based their study on the already ongoing Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) study, which is designed to reveal the characteristics of subclinical cardiovascular disease and risk factors associated with disease progression. Aaron is hopeful that "something that is so widely used might help alleviate the cardiovascular side of things and the pulmonary side of things”.