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Pulmonology Study: Emphysema Damage May Be Reversed

Posted by floriza in Pulmonology

A pulmonology study conducted at the University of Giessen Lung Center in Germany and published in the journal, Cell, indicates that medication can reverse lung damage. The study was conducted on mice, exposing the animals to tobacco smoke.

Prior to developing emphysema, the mice began to develop blood vessel changes and pulmonary high blood pressure as a result of the tobacco smoke exposure.

During the study, the pulmonology researchers discovered that when the enzyme, nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), was blocked by medication, damage to the blood vessels of the lungs could be stopped and even reversed. The enzyme assists in opening blood vessels, but when nitric oxide levels are high, a chemical reaction occurs in the body that produces peroxynitrite. This substance then begins to destroy the lung tissue.

The researchers believe that according to current statistics, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) could be the third most frequent cause of death in the world by the year 2020. COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

What is Emphysema?

Emphysema is a disease of the lungs hat causes damage to the lung tissue, making it difficult to breathe properly. The lungs lose their ability to contract, which inhibits exhalation, and this, in turn, prevents the body from receiving enough oxygen.

The usual cause of emphysema is cigarette smoking, and it often develops with chronic bronchitis, which is a persistent inflammation of the bronchial tubes.

About two million people in the United States suffer from emphysema, and the majority of these people are men over the age of 65 who live in the Midwest.

What is Pulmonology?

Pulmonology is the medical specialty that diagnoses and treats conditions of the respiration tract. Besides emphysema, COPD, and bronchitis, these conditions typically include asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, sleep apnea, pulmonary fibrosis, and sarcoidosis.

Symptoms of pulmonary disease include persistent cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, snoring, and fatigue. Pulmonology tests vary but include ways to determine how much air a patient is capable of breathing in and breathing out. Spirometry measures exhalation, while lung volume measures inhalation.

Other tests determine if the lungs are able to transfer oxygen into the blood and remove carbon dioxide. X-rays of the chest are often taken, and a CT scan may also be performed. A mucus sample may also be taken to determine if infections or cancer cells are present. A blood test can be taken to check for deficiency of a particular substance that signals pulmonary disease.

Pulmonology in New Jersey is just one of the places where these lung tests can be conducted to determine if disease is present.


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