COPD: An Antibiotic A Day Keeps Flare-Ups Away? - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

COPD: An Antibiotic A Day Keeps Flare-Ups Away?

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ANN ARBOR, MI (Ivanhoe Newswire) - COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing as many as 120,000 people every year. Twelve million Americans have been diagnosed with the condition, which some know as emphysema, or chronic bronchitis. Millions more may have COPD, and don't realize it.  We'll show you how an antibiotic a day could help keep attacks at bay.

For 61-year-old Doug Viland, nothing beats an afternoon with his granddaughter Arianna.  Keeping up with a non-stop nine-year-old isn't easy, though. Especially when you can't catch your breath.

"I'd take two or three steps and then I'd have to stop. I'd have episodes like that all the time," Doug Viland, a COPD patient, told Ivanhoe.

Doug has been struggling for years with COPD a serious lung disease that clogs his airways, causing a chronic cough and a lot of phlegm. Until recently, he would often suffer a sudden, severe onset of symptoms, called a flare up.

"There's been a sense for years that these flares in at least a group of patients with COPD are related to bacterial infection of the lung," Fernando Martinez, M.D., M.S., Director of pulmonary diagnostic services at the University of Michigan Health System told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Fernando Martinez is among a group of nationwide researchers studying COPD and the effects of a common antibiotic on the condition.  For one year, 570 trial participants took daily doses of the drug azithromycin in addition to their other COPD treatments. Another group took a placebo.

"We were able to demonstrate that you were able to significantly decrease, by more than 20 percent the rate of flare ups in at-risk people," Dr. Martinez explained.

The daily regimen benefits those with moderate to severe symptoms. For Doug, it made all the difference.

"Before, I could only walk about half a block.  Now I can walk up to five miles," Doug concluded.

Researchers said they were concerned that patients on the daily regimen would develop antibiotic resistance. While the drugs did increase the amount of antibiotic resistant microbes in some patients, there were no infections reported. Still, more studies will be needed to look at the long-term effects of the antibiotic treatment.

RESEARCH SUMMARY

WHAT IS COPD? Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common lung diseases, which make breathing extremely difficult. There are two main forms of COPD: Chronic bronchitis, which consists of a long-term cough with mucus and the second, is emphysema, which involves destruction of the lungs over time. People with COPD usually have a combination of both conditions. At least 13 million people, in the United States alone, suffer from a form of COPD. SOURCE: (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth)

CAUSES: Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. The more a person smokes, the more likelihood that person will develop a form of COPD. In rare cases, nonsmokers who lack a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin can develop emphysema.

OTHER RISKS FACTORS: Others factors that can contribute to COPD are: exposure to certain gases or fumes in the workplace; breathing in heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution; and lighting a fire without having proper ventilation.

SYMPTOMS: Signs of COPD can consist of having a dry or wet cough; fatigue, shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity; having trouble catching one's breath; and wheezing. SOURCE: (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth)

BREAKTHROUGH STUDY: There is no cure for COPD, but a study is published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed a common antibiotic, called azithromycin, reduced the number of flare-ups in patients with COPD.

In the study, 570 patients with COPD took 250 milligrams of azithromycin daily for a year, 572 others to a placebo pill that looked the same. Typically, a patient with COPD who has a flare-up is given a course of antibiotics, but not long-term. The researchers decided to look at the long-term treatment because similar regimens have shown promise in other lung diseases, including cystic fibrosis.
Compared to placebo, the antibiotic reduced flare-ups by about 20%. At the one-year mark, those in the placebo group had on average 1.83 flare-ups, but those in the antibiotic group had 1.48.

PREVENTION: The best way to prevent COPD is by not smoking or by quitting smoking.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Ian Demsky
Senior Public Relations
Univeristy of Michigan Health System
(734) 764-2220
idemsky@umich.edu

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