FAQ’s on COPD Treatment in Oklahoma
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disorder. COPD causes breathing difficulties and progressively worsens over time if not treated. The prevalence of COPD varies from state-to-state, with the highest rates (>9%) in Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
Are there different types of COPD?
Most people with COPD have one or two related lung problems. These illnesses are:
- Chronic bronchitis – This causes the airways of the lungs to swell, become red, and gather mucus.
- Emphysema – People with this condition have excessive trapped air in the lungs. The oxygen has problems getting into the blood stream, and carbon dioxide often is trapped.
What are the symptoms of COPD?
Symptoms of COPD vary from person to person. The symptoms include:
- A cough that produces mucus
- A long-lasting cough
- Tightness in the chest
What causes COPD?
Damage occurs from breathing certain substances over time. Tobacco smoke is the major cause of COPD. Other unhealthy substances that cause COPD are chemical fumes, air pollution, vapors, gases, and mists.
How is COPD diagnosed?
COPD is diagnosed through a physical examination, with chest x-rays, and based on symptomology. The most important test to diagnose and confirm COPD is the spirometry test. This involves breathing into a tube connected to a computer, which produces a graphic analysis of inhalation and exhalation.
What are COPD treatment options?
A person with COPD has many options for treatment. These include:
- Oxygen therapy – You can use oxygen on a regular basis if necessary. Th oxygen tank is refillable, and oxygen can be delivered by a nasal cannula.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation – This involves a variety of therapies that help you manage your disease.
- Stem cell therapy – In the treatment of COPD, stem cells are administered intravenously via infusion. These cells are supposed to make it to the lungs via the blood stream, where they can stimulate repair of lung tissue by differentiating into other types of cells (making new lung tissue).
How does stem cell therapy help?
There are three ideas regarding how stem cells may benefit airway disease. These are:
- Transplanting the cells could build health new lung tissue to replaced disease or destroyed tissue in COPD patients.
- Stem cells could stimulate the formation of new capillaries in the lungs, which lead to better function and tissue repair.
- Stem cells may reduce airway alveoli inflammation, which prevents further damaged. This is thought to occur through immunomodulation functions.
Does stem cell therapy work?
Prior to a 2011 study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, experts did not think the adult lung tissue contained stem cells. The researchers found stem cells in 12 adult donor lungs, and 9 fetuses (died of natural causes). These cells are capable of forming new tissues, which could possibly improve COPD.
In a study involving 62 patients, stem cells were given via infusion to half of the participants. The other study participants received a placebo treatment. The patients received four monthly infusions of stem cells.
After two years, patients were evaluated using pulmonary function testing (PFT), as well as questionnaires and assessments of systemic inflammation. While there were no real changes observed, patients treated with stem cells had decreased levels of c-reactive protein (CRP), which is often elevated with inflammation. The researchers determined that stem cells were safe and showed promised when used for COPD.
Weiss DJ, Casaburi R, Flannery R, et al. (2013). A Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Trial of Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Ches, 143(6) 1525-1527.