Posted on Nov 07, 2023, 2 p.m.
Widened lung airways, cough, sputum production, and frequent infections (Bronchiectasis) often presents with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and this overlap is associated with airflow obstruction and higher mortality in adults. Advances in lung imaging techniques allow healthcare systems to detect bronchiectasis more commonly, be it incidentally in radiological scans of those with mild or no symptoms.
In this study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a team of researchers investigated the association between suspected bronchiectasis and mortality among adults with a smoking history. A dataset containing information that was collected over 11 years from more than 7,500 patients (categorized into suspected bronchiectasis or non-suspected groups) including those with normal breathing test results and those with significantly impaired airflow was analyzed using a combination of clinical and imaging data.
According to the researchers, suspected bronchiectasis among those with both normal and obstructed airflow was associated with a higher risk of mortality. The researchers suggest that the increased risk might be explained by the frequent inflammation and exposure to pathogens caused by smoking habits. Additionally, as obstructed airflow is a characteristic of COPD, the results may help to further understanding of the association between mortality risk and disease severity.
“Our study represents one of the largest evaluations of suspected bronchiectasis in understudied groups of adults with a history of smoking,” said corresponding author Alejandro Diaz, MD, MPH, of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. “These findings suggest that using lung imaging as a clinical tool to identify bronchiectasis could help improve patient care.”
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