COPD risk factors for early onset among U.S. Hispanics/Latinos studied

Asthma identified as one of the most important risk factors

Scientists have examined the risk factors for early COPD among U.S. Hispanics/Latinos and published their findings in Annals of the American Thoracic Society. The study led to discovery that asthma is one of the most important risk factors for early onset of COPD among the community studied. Smoking and chronic sinusitis are other risk factors.

For those of you who are not aware, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive disorder that is often not diagnosed until a patient is over 60 years old and causes substantial airflow obstruction. Due to late diagnosis, it becomes very difficult to manage and treat the condition because of which scientists have been looking for ways to identify those at risk and intervene earlier.

Many scientists and researchers have undertaken different studies but the study has generally involved white and older populations and so early signs of the disease have generally been not looked into. Now a new study by scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital leveraged data from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) to examine risk factors for early COPD among U.S. Hispanics/Latinos.

Researchers used data from the HCHS/SOL and looked at spirometry — a measure of the speed at which a person can inhale and exhale air. These measurements were used to calculate early COPD. Findings indicated that 524 respondents met the criteria for early COPD. After using a model to adjust for variables, the team found that asthma, past smoking history and chronic sinusitis were significantly associated with increased odds of early COPD. The prevalence of early COPD among the population studied was 7.6 percent. This rate was consistent across age groups studied.

The team notes that the associations it uncovered merit further investigation, including the relationship between chronic sinusitis and COPD. The two conditions share symptoms, including coughing and sputum production, but further study is needed to understand the connection. Smoking was also found to be a risk factor for early COPD, despite the fact that U.S. Hispanics/Latinos, on average, have lower smoking rates and smoke fewer packs of cigarettes than other U.S. populations.

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