Rise in temperature can increase the risk factors and disease progression in patients suffering from serious lung disorders, according to a study.
- obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is severe lung inflammation categorized with shortness of breath, repeated cough and mucus production in the lower airway. It is often caused by tobacco smoking, prolonged exposure to air pollutants and chronic bronchitis. In a recent study, experts from the John Hopkins University suggest COPD patients should remain in a cooler environment to avoid increased use of rescue medications and deterioration of lung function resulting from hot weather and temperature.
Their study involved 84 people in Baltimore, who previously indulged in heavy smoking, with moderate to severe COPD to assess the impact of temperature change on disease symptoms and advancement. The researcher noted the participants' daily amount of exposure to indoor and outdoor temperature for six week with a gap of three months in between. They also recorded subjects' COPD symptoms, breathlessness, cough and phlegm production, usage of inhaler medicines and lung function through the entire period.
Of the total subjects only 48 percent reported going outdoors in warm weather conditions.
The findings revealed increase in indoor temperature was related to increase in disease symptoms, rise in the use of medications and decrease in lung functioning. However, people who rarely went out and sometimes spent some time in warm outdoor weather had increase in the risk factors for COPD but did not report any changes in medicine use and lung capacity. The study observed these after-effects of warm temperature even after recording the levels of harmful pollutants in the air.
"Understanding the effect of heat on susceptible populations is increasingly important in order to anticipate and prepare for health effects related to climate change," said Meredith McCormack, study author and researcher at the John Hopkins in a news release. "Although outdoor heat has been associated with increased mortality and with hospitalizations in specific populations, including COPD, less is known about individual-level exposure to heat and the impact on disease-specific outcomes. That was the focus of our study."
"These findings support the need for adaptive approaches to COPD treatment to prevent adverse health effects related to increases in temperature," McCormack said.
The authors believe further investigation is needed to closely evaluate the impact of heat on COPD patients.
The research was presented at the 2014 international conference of the American Thoracic Society.