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COVID-19 and COPD: Some Surprising News

Sepy2020image004Despite its massive global impact, COVID-19 is still a relatively new virus that we know little about. We know it’s an upper-respiratory illness that spreads very easily—especially when people have no idea they have it. Some who are infected experience very minor symptoms while others become so severely ill they require hospitalization. For others, it is fatal.

One area of COVID-19 that has been surprising is its effect on those with underlying conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma. According to said Dr. Tim Connolly, a pulmonologist at Houston Methodist, while COPD sufferers are still at risk because they have less respiratory reserve than those with healthier lungs, the impact of COVID-19 has been much higher on those with conditions such as obesity, diabetes or vascular disease.

“We still don't fully understand why people with preexisting lung conditions don't make up a larger majority of current COVID-19 cases as initially anticipated,” Connolly said. “Preliminary data suggest that people with asthma may make less of the receptor that the virus uses to invade the body, called ACE2, making it more difficult for the virus to gain entry into the host. In addition, ongoing maintenance therapy with inhaled steroids, such as budesonide, may also confer an advantage for people with chronic lung conditions.”

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