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Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Combat COPD?

This past January, researchers from the University of Rochester were awarded $1.6 million to embark on a four year series of studies involving a group of compounds derived from omega-3 fatty acids and their ability to combat inflammation caused by cigarette smoking, which can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The research team will use their early data to illustrate that compounds, called pro-resolving lipid mediators, have anti-inflammatory effects on human lung cells and can stop cigarette smoke-induced lung damage that creates and exacerbates the disease. The team believes that the studies will showcase the compound’s ability to speed the repair of lung injury from short and long-term cigarette smoke exposure, as well as other forms of lung injury.

“These exciting new compounds have the potential to be one of the first-ever disease modifying therapies against smoking-induced inflammatory lung disease, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, the two conditions that characterize COPD,” said Richard P. Phipps, Ph.D., research team leader and professor of Environmental Medicine and Director of the Lung Biology and Disease Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

The research team explained that while current therapies, such as bronchodilators and steroids, can relieve symptoms, they are not cures. The team’s early data focuses solely on pro-resolving lipid mediators’ effect on the lungs. In previous studies, these compounds have shown the ability to turn off pro-inflammatory signals and promote the destruction of inflammatory cells that take over lung tissue following smoking.

Following the studies, researchers say they hope to develop a supplement, “likely from fish or certain plants like algae, which is highly enriched in pro-resolving mediators”.

Click Here to Access the Full Story on University of Rochester Medical Center

COPD: The Nutrition Connection

For those individuals dealing with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema, difficulty breathing is an all too common daily experience. Some patients even find the ritual of eating food every day to be an exhausting and labor intensive task as difficulty breathing or wearing oxygen masks gets in the way of an enjoyable activity.

Those with emphysema or COPD who tend to have unwanted weight loss due to lack of proper nutrition intake become very thin, even cachectic looking, says Ilaria St. Florian, a clinical nutritionist at both Stamford Hospital in Connecticut and White Plains Hospital in New York. “It can start to affect your immune system, so that you’re more susceptible to infection. It affects your general strength – really, your muscles,” she says.

It is imperative that COPD and emphysema patients get the most out of every calorie consumed in order to keep up their strength and maintain the integrity of their immune system. St. Florian suggests the following to help maintain a normalized weight and diet:

  • Avoid large meals. Smaller, more frequent meals work better because you don’t have to work as hard or as long to eat.

  • Eat protein. When losing muscle due to lack of activity, dietary protein can synthesize new muscle.

  • Monosaturated fats are your friend. Canola oil, avocados and nuts are heart healthy and provide extra calories for patients who aren’t eating a lot.

  • Avoid dairy products, as these can create mucous, which can be uncomfortable and difficult to remove in COPD and emphysema patients.

  • Drink fluids between meals, not with meals, to avoid filling the stomach too quickly.

  • Eat slowly. Swallowing food quickly can increase the risk of pneumonia.

St. Florian also suggests eating more fish, grapefruits, bananas due to their abundance in antioxidants, which help to fight off damaging free radicals in the body caused by smoking. Using these tips can help COPD and emphysema patients plan condition suitable meals, that will help to maintain a healthy weight.

Click here to access the full story on U.S. News and World Report

The Importance of an Early Diagnosis in COPD Patients

Usually irreversible and progressive, a late diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) poses a problem as the disease may be rather advanced before the cause of the patient’s respiratory problems are diagnosed. Access and use of primary care can play a significant role in determining an early diagnosis of COPD.

Begin by identifying possible risk factors. The most prevalent risk factors associated with a COPD diagnoses include:

  • Cigarette smoking

  • Passive smoking

  • Genetics

  • Environmental air pollution

  • Occupational exposures (i.e. coal mine workers)

  • Childhood respiratory illness

  • Recurrent bronchopulmonary infections

  • Chronic asthma

  • Multidisciplinary treatment

  • Smoking cessation

  • Bronchodilators

  • Corticosteroids

  • Long-term oxygen therapy

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation

  • Nutrition

If you are able to catch any of these signs and address them with your primary care doctor, you are more likely to receive an early diagnoses; helping to prevent advancement and exacerbations.

 If you are diagnosed with COPD, it is important to know the severity of the condition. Familiarity with such indicators will help to identify any adverse or worsening symptoms. Knowing the severity will also help to determine which form(s) of treatment are right for you. Following are treatment methods to consider if diagnosed with COPD:

 While each of these has shown to provide various forms of improvement in patients, they may not be right for your specific needs. It is always best to consult your primary care doctor and weigh your options based on your set and severity of symptoms.


Click here to access the full story on Nursing In Practice

Developing a Diagnostic Breath Test

Paramedics responding to 911 calls often find themselves in a situation where a patient is having difficulty breathing. Here they must ask themselves: is this patient suffering from acute emphysema or heart failure? While both have similar symptoms, initiating improper treatment may cause severe complications.

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Research Laboratory of Electronics and Harvard Medical School recently teamed up to develop an algorithm that can be used to help determine, with high accuracy, whether a patient is suffering from emphysema or heart failure.

A capnograph, a piece of equipment used in every ambulance, uses readings that measure the concentration of carbon dioxide in a patient’s exhalations after a breathing tube is inserted. Over time, physicians observed that the capnograms of patients with congestive heart failure and emphysema were subtly but consistently different both from each other and from those of healthy subjects.

The algorithm the research team has developed uses the data the machine yields to look for correlations between the patients’ capnograms and their final diagnoses. Through the use of the algorithm, the team was able to distinguish both emphysema patients from those with congestive heart failure and healthy subjects from those with emphysema.

Currently, the team is testing the algorithm with paramedics in the field and evaluating whether capnography can measure the severity of asthma attacks and the degree of sedation in patients undergoing medical procedures.

Click here to access the full story at MIT Technology Review

Results of Costly Emphysema Operation Are Mixed, Study Finds

The widely promoted lung volume reduction surgery that promises to help ease symptoms of severe emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may not provide all the benefits that are expected, including prolonged life. Although the study found that participants reported improved symptoms, the research team from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service, deemed the procedure high risk, as surgical patients had a higher death rate after 90 days than those who did not have the operation.

The study’s findings are of importance because they are aiding in the United States government’s decision to have the procedure covered by Medicare for those patients age 65 and older. Currently, Medicare does not pay for the operation, which costs about $60,000, a large price tag for the risk incurred.

About a quarter of study participants saw significant symptom improvement, some even able to go for walks and exercise, but Dr. Gail Weinmann, project officer at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and sponsor of the study, warns that the effects of the surgery vary widely among patients. Additionally, she noted that after 36 months the death rate was 20 percent in those who underwent the procedure.

''This is the kind of information patients should know when they are thinking about whether they should have treatment,'' said Dr. Weinmann. “It is not a procedure for everyone.”

Dr. Sean Tunis, chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services added that Medicare would probably make a coverage decision in 30 to 90 days.


Click Here to Access the Full Study on the New York Times

Nutrition Treatment in Hospitalized COPD Patients Shows Improved Health Outcomes

The results of a recent study showed reduced hospital costs, lengths of stay and chances of returning to the hospital within 30-days for patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who were receiving oral nutritional supplements.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School wanted to determine the link between poor nutrition and those most likely to have the disease, seniors. Poor nutrition constitutes the insufficient intake of adequate calories and protein for maintenance and growth. Study participants included those individuals aged 65 and older, on Medicare, who had been admitted to the hospital with a primary diagnoses of COPD.

Since Medicare will be raising its maximum penalty for hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30-days, the research team found it beneficial for both patients and physicians to include this in the study.

The results revealed a reduction in participant length of stay by 1.88 days (21.5 percent) and total hospital costs by $1,570 (12.5 percent) on average, compared to those who did not receive nutrition treatment. Additionally, those participants who received oral nutrition treatment had a 13.1 percent reduction in 30-day readmission.

"Our findings suggest that screening seniors in the hospital for malnutrition risk and providing cost-effective treatment for those who are malnourished or at risk, can have a positive health impact on outcomes," said Julia Thornton Snider, Ph.D., at Precision Health Economics and lead author for the study.

Click Here to Access the Full Story on Medical News Today

Research Shows Vitamin D Reduces Lung Disease Flare-ups by Over 40%

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London found that vitamin D supplements have the ability to reduce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) flare-ups in vitamin D deficient patients.

Affecting over 65 million people worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates that nearly 5% of all deaths globally can be attributed to COPD, leading Queen Mary University researchers to create a randomized trial that investigated the affect vitamin D supplements had on individuals suffering from the disease.

Published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, researchers studied 240 COPD patients, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Half of participants were given a vitamin D supplement and the remaining participants received a placebo supplement.

The results of the study indicated that patients with a vitamin D deficiency benefited from taking the supplements, having dramatically fewer flare-ups with reduced severity and duration. Those without a vitamin D deficiency did not see the same results.

“Our findings suggest that patients with COPD should have their vitamin D status tested and should begin taking supplements if their levels are found to be low” said Professor Adrian Martineau, Lead Author, Queen Mary University of London. “Our research has shown how an inexpensive vitamin supplement can significantly reduce the risk of flare-ups for patients who are vitamin D deficient, which could have a major public health benefit.”

Click Here to Access the Full Story on Health Canal

New Stem Cell Research Offers Insights into Novel Emphysema Therapies

A new study published in Respiratory Research, studied the impact of different mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in the treatment emphysema. Results indicate that lung and cardiovascular damage in research mice was reduced based on various types of MSC injections.

Researchers, who induced emphysema in mice, aimed to determine if injection of MSCs into various points of delivery, both intra-tracheal and intravenous, would reduce the lungs’ alveoli from becoming enlarged. This enlargement is often accompanied by a decrease in pulmonary regeneration, which can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The study found that after the mice had been injected with stem cells from bone marrow, adipose and/or lung tissue, there were “increased elastic fiber content and reduced alveolar-capillary membrane,” which allows for the regeneration of damaged lung and cardiovascular tissue.

Although the study results illustrate the benefits of stem cell use in induced emphysema, the experiment has not been conducted on humans and there currently is not have a timetable for doing so. However, researchers expect to conduct further research comparing the effects of different MSC sources and routes of administration in an effort to increase therapeutic measures.

Click Here to Access the Full Story from Lung Disease News

Technology Company Gives COPD Patients a Lifeline with New Gadget

Philips, a healthcare, consumer lifestyle and lighting technology company, has released a wearable health tracker that is helping chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients record biometric data associated with the disease that can be accessed from the patient’s mobile device.

HealthPatchMD is attached to a disposable, adhesive bandage that is applied to the chest to monitor “physical activity and inactivity, respiratory function, heart rhythm, and heart rate variability.” Patients can then access the data collected through two cloud-based apps: Philips eCareCompanion and eCareCoordinator, “making it possible for doctors to monitor patients remotely.”

Jeroen Tas, CEO of the Philips Healthcare Informatics Solutions and Services business group, states that this new device will help patients stay ahead of the curve if their symptoms begin to worsen. "If you have a chronic condition, then leveraging mobile technology with really low cost sensors... [and link] that through real-time data analytics into a care setting, you can develop completely new propositions," says Tas.

The device is expected to be available in early 2015. Philips has indicated that it is just the beginning of what will be a trend toward innovative technology for remote monitoring for long-term, chronic illnesses like COPD.

A video is available from Philips, presenting the new system.

Click Here to Access the Full Study on USA Today

Protein Therapy Successful in Treating Injured Lung Cells

The most recent effort to find a treatment for those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other debilitating lung conditions has shown success in repairing lung tissue in preliminary animal testing. According to an article in Medical Xpress, cardiovascular researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have successfully used a protein known as MG53 to treat acute and chronic lung cell injury.

The study compared control animals that lacked MG53 to those treated with the genetically human form of MG53. The former were more susceptible to lung injury while animals treated with the protein showed signs of lung cell protection.

Jianjie Ma, a professor and researcher in Ohio State's Department of Surgery and the Dorothy M. Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute, first identified MG53 in 2008. He has since focused his energy on using this cell biology to treat and repair lung injuries in a variety of forms – including COPD.

According to the American Lung Association, approximately 36 million Americans live with some form of chronic lung disease, and cite the potential benefits from a protein therapy that targets cell repair.

Ma emphasizes the importance continuing research, saying MG53, if found to work in humans, “could be used prior to surgeries to prevent damage and promote healing. It could be used in an emergency department, by paramedics or on the battlefield to treat traumatic injuries. We are hopeful as we now work to begin our clinical trials.”

Ma adds that “the implications for patient care could be quite significant; it could prevent and repair heart and lung cell damage,” a welcome possible treatment for those suffering from the lung damage associated with COPD.

Click Here to Access the Full Story from Medical Xpress

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