Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.
In this Article
- Emphysema facts
- Introduction to emphysema
- What is emphysema?
- What are the causes or risk factors for emphysema?
- What are symptoms of emphysema?
- How is emphysema diagnosed?
- Physical examination
- Exams and tests
- What are the stages of emphysema?
- What is the treatment for emphysema?
- Smoking cessation
- Medications for emphysema
- Pulmonary rehabilitation for emphysema
- What is the prognosis and life-expectancy of a person with emphysema?
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) FAQs
- Find a local Pulmonologist in your town
These programs involve primarily two components, education and exercise.
Patient education includes:
- proper breathing techniques,
- clearance of secretions,
- understanding their medications and devices,
- efficient body mechanics, and
- networking with other lung patients.
All of the above are essential components of emphysema treatment. Graded physical exercise under supervision allows for better patient mobility. A multidisciplinary program helps improve the patient's quality of life and decreases the number of hospitalizations for exacerbations of their underlying disease.
Depending upon what type of damage has occurred to the lung, there is potential to have surgery to decrease the lung volume and help minimize the symptoms of emphysema. Because patients with this disease tend to be older, more ill, and have associated underlying medical problems, this treatment is very patient-specific and is not routinely offered.
Studies have demonstrated that patients with emphysema primarily affecting the upper lobes of both lungs may benefit most from lung volume reduction surgery, often by removing larger bullae.
What is the prognosis and life-expectancy of a person with emphysema?
Emphysema is a disease that affects quality of life and not necessarily the quantity of life. The goal for treatment of emphysema is to prevent further lung damage, and to maximize the function of the remaining healthy lung tissue.
Symptoms of emphysema occur because the body is not being supplied with adequate oxygen, and because it takes significant effort to take deeper breaths. These both contribute to the very miserable sensation of constantly feeling short of breath.
There are no studies that have been able to predict mortality from emphysema, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 127,000 people died from COPD in 2009. In comparison, five times as many people died of heart attack, and four times as many due to cancer.
The BODE score can help measure quality of life and prognosis for future function.
- B = Body Mass Index (BMI).
- O = Obstruction. Lung function based on pulmonary function tests.
- D = Dyspnea (breathlessness)
- E = Exercise capacity. How far the emphysema patient can walk in 6 minutes
Neither the GOLD or BODE scores can predict longevity or mortality but are guidelines to assess the severity of emphysema and how it may affect future lifestyle.
CDC.gov. Leading Causes of Death.
Tintinalli J, etal. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th edition. McGraw-Hill Professional 2010
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