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COPD Patients Are at Special Risk for Severe Outcomes If They Become Infected With the New Coronavirus

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on March 18th, 2020

Researchers have identified groups who are at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection when the virus is circulating in their community. They defined "high-risk" using the latest information from the CDC, which refers to adults ages 60 and older, along with those who have cancer, heart disease or COPD.

Based on existing information and current outcomes, some people are more at risk than others of more severe forms of COVID-19 infection. These include patients with a collection of obstructive lung diseases that cause blocked airways and make breathing difficult.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema is a chronic inflammatory condition that mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke. Exposure to hazardous mineral fibers such as asbestos can increase a person's risk of developing the condition. It is important that those living with COPD and their caregivers are well-informed about the novel coronavirus and take appropriate steps to avoid and prevent infection.

For COPD Patients the Consequences of COVID-19 Infection Are Potentially More Serious

In COPD, the inflammation of the small airways and destruction of the lung parenchyma reduces airflow through the bronchial tubes making it difficult to move air in and out of the lungs. The inflammation and irritation of the bronchial tubes make the nerves in the lungs very sensitive.

Lower respiratory tract infections, both acute and chronic may be responsible for up to 70 percent of the incidence of worsened COPD. Although people with underlying health conditions, including COPD, are at no greater risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 than others, they are more likely to experience serious complications if they become infected. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia - an inflammatory condition that can range from mild to severe. Pneumonia is particularly dangerous for people with COPD because it causes an increased risk of respiratory failure - a condition in which not enough oxygen passes from your lungs into your blood.

The warning signs and symptoms of an oncoming exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which can vary among individuals may include:

  • Cough with phlegm or pus
  • Shallow, rapid breathing or heart rate
  • High fever
  • Sweating or chills
  • Overwhelming tiredness or fatigue
  • Body aches
  • An increased need for oxygen
  • Confusion, especially in older people

In patients with COPD, pneumonia can cause deprivation of oxygen (hypoxia), which can lead to many serious, sometimes life-threatening complications like:

  • Damage to kidneys
  • Acute respiratory failure
  • Irreversible brain damage
  • Heart failure

Hypoxia demands emergency treatment where medical professionals focus on providing supplemental oxygen to the patient as quickly as possible. This may involve using an oxygen mask or a catheter inserted into the nose or trachea to receive additional oxygen.

Currently, there is no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but treatment can help you obtain better control of the symptoms. If your primary care pharmacy runs out of your COPD medications, we highly recommend checking with your healthcare provider for alternative medications. Also, if you have COPD and develop emergency warning signs of COVID-19 infection, you will need to self-isolate and phone your GP immediately. Follow the instructions you are given.

We Want to Make Sure COPD Patients and Their Caregivers Are Well-Informed About This Virus

As the number of people and countries affected by this new virus has spread, many misleading information and false claims appeared. These unverifiable rumors caught on amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic led to confusion among many Americans who don't know how seriously to take them.

Since developments are fast-breaking, we know it's particularly important to rely on experts who have a mission to inform and protect the public, such as:

We Help People Receive Compensation for Respiratory Disorders Caused by Asbestos Exposure

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a major cause of disability and early death. If you have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and held down a job that involved handling asbestos-containing materials, you should seek legal advice about your entitlement to compensation.

Over time, COPD might lead to more serious diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma - a rare and aggressive form of cancer. You can choose to settle your claim on a provisional basis, preserving the right to apply for more compensation if there's medical evidence that your condition has gotten significantly worse.