Long-term exposure to lung irritants that damage the lungs and the airways usually is the cause of COPD.
In the United States, the most common irritant that causes COPD is cigarette smoke. Pipe, cigar, and other types of tobacco smoke also can cause COPD, especially if the smoke is inhaled.
Breathing in secondhand smoke, air pollution, or chemical fumes or dust from the environment or workplace also can contribute to COPD. (Secondhand smoke is smoke in the air from other people smoking.)
Rarely, a genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may play a role in causing COPD. People who have this condition have low levels of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT)—a protein made in the liver.
Having a low level of the AAT protein can lead to lung damage and COPD if you're exposed to smoke or other lung irritants. If you have this condition and smoke, COPD can worsen very quickly.
Although uncommon, some people who have asthma can develop COPD. Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Treatment usually can reverse the inflammation and narrowing. However, if not, COPD can develop.
What is COPD?
What is COPD?
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for COPD, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
May 18, 2014
NIH-funded studies find statins provide no benefit to COPD, ARDS outcomes
Statin therapy does not prevent exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lower mortality from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), report two studies that rigorously tested the benefit of the cholesterol-lowering drugs on outcomes in the lung diseases.
August 19, 2014
Gary H. Gibbons
Why Do Fruit Flies Take Naps? NHLBI Investigator Studies Connections Between Sleep Patterns and Gene Networks in Fruit F
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