According to the Globe and Mail, people with asthma are 12 times as likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as those who do not have asthma, according to a new study.
While the two respiratory diseases share symptoms, they have always been considered distinct. But new research suggests that asthma and COPD "may share a common background" and asthma may lay the groundwork for the far more serious condition, said Graciela Silva, a researcher at the Respiratory Centre of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
She said factors such as smoking and pollution may facilitate the evolution of asthma into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and that means asthmatics should be particularly careful about their exposure to tobacco smoke and pollutants, reports Globe and Mail.
WebMD informs that COPD is a group of lung diseases for which there is no cure. COPD causes permanent damage to the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. It includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The findings, published in the medical journal Chest, are the result of a two-decade study of more than 3,000 Arizona residents, writes Globe and Mail.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, it is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the world, reports WebMD.
COPD is the fifth leading cause of death in Canada, and the only disease in the top five whose prevalence is increasing.
Canadian data show that 3.6 per cent of women 35 or older suffer from COPD, compared with 2.8 per cent of men.
Worldwide, more than three million people die annually of COPD, states Globe and Mail.