A recent study conducted by Dr. Meredith McCormack of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD suggests that high temperatures are related to the escalation in symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), a concerning statistic for some, considering global warming predictions.
The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society. They’re still considered preliminary and need further investigation, but the initial results allow researchers to begin working on new solutions, as they will be needed, according to McCormack. “These findings support the need for adaptive approaches to COPD treatment to prevent adverse health effects related to increases in temperature,” she explained to journalists, according to U.S. News & World Report.
To observe how COPD patients reacted to heat, McCormak’s team chose 84 former smokers with moderate to severe symptoms of the disease. Each patient was observed for a week for a total of three times, spaced by three months each.
During the time of observation, patients registered and evaluated their symptoms every day. They measured breathlessness, cough production, lung function and their need for an inhaler, at the same time they registered daily temperatures, indoor and outside.
To study the effects of heat, investigators looked at the time spent in the warm season, in a total of 602 days of monitoring during the warm season, with patients’ report of going outdoors on only 48% of those days.
The study showed that higher temperatures, both indoor and outside, led to an increase in symptoms. However, the need for medication and lung function decline were only reported when patients were exposed to higher temperatures indoors.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder includes diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis that cause airflow blockage and breathing difficulties. It is estimated that fifteen million people in the U.S. are affected by COPD each year while the disease ranks as third leading cause of death in the country.