Home Life Style people with COPD who take benzodiazepines may have poor respiratory outcomes

people with COPD who take benzodiazepines may have poor respiratory outcomes

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease of the lungs which usually includes chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive airways disease and emphysema. A recent study shows that old people with COPD who take benzodiazepines may have poor respiratory outcomes.

What is COPD?

COPD can lead to difficulties in breathing due to the narrowing of airways and airflow obstruction. It is often accompanied by symptoms such as breathlessness, cough with phlegm, and frequent respiratory infections. COPD is due to smoking and is dependent on how long you have been smoking and how many cigarettes you smoke per day. Over time, the lungs develop inflammation and the walls of the airways thicken to produce more mucus. The walls of the air sacs or alveoli become damaged and the lungs lose elasticity. These changes lead to emphysema that further leads to scarring and narrowing of the smaller airways. These changes further develop symptoms such as breathlessness, cough and productive phlegm. COPD is often caused by dust, air pollution, fumes, and genetic disorders.

COPD often affects adults over the age of 35; most of these adults get diagnosed in their 50s. It is important that COPD needs to be diagnosed as soon as possible so that early treatment may be given to preserve lung structure and function. Without early treatment, there may be deterioration of lung structure and function. COPD is usually diagnosed by medical history, physical examination and breathing tests.

Not all people are prone to develop COPD. COPD is usually caused by exposure to smoke and air pollutants both in the home and in the workplace, thus people who are exposed to these things are at high risk for the condition. Those who are more likely to acquire COPD are those who are aged 65 to 74 years old, non-hispanic whites, women, those who are unemployed or who are unable to work, those who have lower educational attainments and lower incomes, those who are divorced or widowed or separated, those who are current or former smokers, and those with a history of asthma.

COPD is usually treated by stopping smoking and by intake of medications such as inhalers. Surgery may be an option for people with COPD.

COPD and Benzodiazepines Intake

A recent study has shown that benzodiazepines, a class of drugs which are commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia can significantly increase the risk for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD to visit their doctors or the emergency department for respiratory reasons. One author commented that these benzodiazepines are able to contribute to respiratory problems such as respiratory depression and pneumonia. The results of this study are published in the online issue of the European Respiratory Journal. This is said to be the first study that can look at the clinical outcomes of patients with COPD who prescribe these drugs. This study utilized data from the databases at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Studies to identify older adults in Ontario who had been diagnosed with COPD, as well as prescription, health insurance and hospitalization records.

The researchers soon found out that patients who have COPD who have just been prescribed with a benzodiazepine have a 45% increased risk of exacerbation of symptoms which may require treatment. These patients also have a 92% increased risk of having visits in emergency rooms for COPD exacerbation or pneumonia. Thus physicians should be careful in prescribing benzodiazepines to people with COPD because serious medical complications may result from it.

You may read more about COPD if you browse our other articles on this site.