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These six medical conditions often accompany COPD, and providers should heed them as warning signs.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes lasting lung damage even before symptoms show. By the time mild COPD is detected, patients already may have lost more than 40% of their small airways, found researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. They reviewed 30 years of specimens in a Canadian lung tissue registry.
“Many people have undiagnosed COPD, so the importance of screening is greater,” says Timothy J. Scialla, MD, pulmonologist at Duke University’s Duke Asthma Allergy and Airway in Durham, North Carolina.
Scialla says six other medical conditions often accompany COPD, and providers should heed them as signs that COPD screening may be needed. “COPD is not just a disease of the lung,” he says. “It can affect your whole body.”
Here are the six conditions to watch for:
Also, drugs used to treat COPD and acute exacerbations-corticosteroids and bronchodilators-impair the body’s metabolism of calcium and vitamin D.
This, in turn, hampers bone-building, say researchers from Pradesh, India, in a 2015 issue of the journal Clinical Medicine Insights: Circulatory, Respiratory and Pulmonary Medicine.
Spinal breaks-known as vertebral compression fractures-can constrict lungs and their ability to function. Each break drops lung capacity by 9%, according to a 2007 University of Alberta, CA, study in the Journal of Bone Mineral Research.
5. Depression and anxiety. “Which comes first, COPD or depression? I don’t know,” Scialla says. But depressed patients are less likely to exercise and more likely to stay indoors, thus decreasing their vitamin D levels, all contributors to COPD.
6. Lung cancer. Smoking, genes, and chronic lung inflammation contribute to both COPD and lung cancer, he says.