"For many years, asthma and COPD have been regarded as distinct conditions, with separate clinical courses. However, over time, the two diseases may develop features that are quite similar. Our study shows a strong link between asthma diagnosis and the development of COPD, which suggests they may share a common background," said the article's lead author Graciela E. Silva, MPH, University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ. "It is possible that factors such as smoking and repeated episodes of acute bronchitis may facilitate the evolution of asthma into COPD, but the process by which asthma and COPD become comorbid conditions is not clear." COPD is a collective name for a group of chronic lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, characterized by irreversible airflow limitation and permanent lung damage. Asthma is a chronic disease in which the airways become inflamed, causing airflow obstruction and difficulty breathing. Unlike COPD, it is thought that asthma does not lead to permanent lung damage and symptoms can usually be relieved spontaneously or with medication.
University of Arizona researchers assessed whether an active asthma diagnosis is a predictor of a future diagnosis of emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or COPD (emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis and pulmonary function test results less than 80 percent of predicted). Researchers analyzed survey data obtained from 3,099 Caucasian community subjects enrolled in the Tucson Epidemiologic Study of Airway Obstructive Disease between 1972 and 1973. Patients at least 20 years of age upon enr
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American College of Chest Physicians