Yikes! Thanksgiving has come and gone and the media has wasted no time in inundating the air-waves with Christmas commercials. And for many people, myself included, the end of the month means higher stress levels, as the struggle to meet important deadlines before the clock strikes midnight on the last day of the month seems never-ending.
As I rise from my computer chair after writing for what seems like forever, I realize how stressful and tiring sitting in one place can be, especially when you don't make time for a stretch break. That's why stress relief should be an important part of everyone's health regimen, especially during the holidays when most of us have bid farewell to our last nerve.
This year, I'm going to take my own advice as I review some important ways to:
- Beat holiday stress
- Review COPD prevention tips for Santa
- Avoid holiday weight gain
- Improve exercise tolerance
- Start an exercise program
- Conserve energy
- Fight fatigue
I hope you review them too!
As we get closer to Christmas, I'll be sure to post my 2013 Christmas gift list for people with COPD.
Here's to a happy, healthy and easy breathing holiday!
Indoor air pollution is sometimes worse than outdoor air pollution. For this reason, improving indoor air is an important part of managing COPD and other health conditions.
Air purification systems generally promise to remove harmful particles, gases, viruses or bacteria from indoor air, but figuring out the pros and cons, or which filter does what, is often confusing. And then, the question arises "do air cleaning systems really do what they say they do"?
If you're considering an air filtration system for your home, you can read more about them and compare prices in the following article:
If you own an air purifier, share how it has benefited you, or failed to benefit you, in the comment section.
Most homes are filled with volatile organic compounds (VOC's) that can cause or worsen respiratory health. Although many people with COPD use air purifiers with HEPA filters to purify the air they breathe, studies have found these systems to be ineffective in removing all indoor air pollutants.
Experiments conducted by NASA and other environmental agencies have found that a number of houseplants are highly capable of removing indoor toxins and may be a harmless addition to the air filtration system in your home. Which plants do scientists recommend work best? Check out the following to find out:
Thanksgiving is a time for sharing our gratitude. One of the things that I'm most grateful for this year, is the opportunity to be a part of About.com's COPD Website and Forum. For 5.5 years, I've had the pleasure of sharing with you, information I've learned about COPD. To those who have been a part of the website since its inception in May, 2008, I want to express my deepest gratitude. To those who are new, I am glad you found us and hope you stick around for a while.
That said, oftentimes, my blog posts tend to reflect the more serious side of COPD: new drug treatments, how comorbidities affect the disease and the latest research developments that will hopefully someday, lead to a cure. This Thanksgiving, I thought I'd keep it light by sharing with you, this fun game that I found online created especially for Thanksgiving.
So, without further ado, Happy Thanksgiving to all and I hope you enjoy the game:
PS: Be patient, it may take a minute or so to load, depending on your Internet speed.
Patients with COPD have an increased risk of heart disease and heart attack. In fact, up to a third of deaths in COPD are associated with co-existing heart disease. Moreover, for every 10% drop in FEV1, the risk of death from heart disease rises by 28 percent. A new study shows that beta blockers, such as Atenolol and Metoprolol, may reduce the risk of death from heart attack in certain COPD patients. To date, however, beta blockers remain considerably under-prescribed.
Principle Findings of the Study
The population-based cohort study was conducted in England and included 1063 COPD patients with a first heart attack between January, 2003 to December, 2008.
Key findings of the study revealed that overall, COPD patients who used a beta blocker after their first heart attack had a lower risk of death. Those starting beta blockers during their hospital admission had a 50% lower risk of death compared to those who weren't treated with beta blockers at all. Those using beta blockers before their hospital admission had a 41% lower risk of death.
At the 2.9 year followup, 50.2% of patients who never used a beta blocker had passed away compared to 38.9% who received a beta blocker before their heart attack and 24.9% who started on beta blockers during their hospitalization.
The study concluded that beta blockers are under-prescribed in COPD, which may contribute to a higher risk of death after a heart attack in this population. Based on study findings, researchers suggest that beta blockers be more widely prescribed in COPD patients who've had a heart attack, but that future evaluation is needed before prescribing practices of physicians, are changed.
For more information, refer the the actual study published in the BMJ.
Quint, J.K. et. al. Effect of β blockers on mortality after myocardial infarction in adults with COPD: population based cohort study of UK electronic healthcare records. BMJ 2013;347:f6650.
In a recent blog post, I reported that the Novartis drug QVA149, also known as the Ultibro Breezhaler, was approved in the European Union and Japan in September, 2013. Since then, it's also been launched in Germany and the Netherlands, making it one step closer to US approval.
Once-daily Ultibro Inhalation Capsules combine indacaterol, a long-acting beta agonist with glycopyrronium bromide, a muscarinic antagonist. Together, this combination seems to be the drug to beat as Phase III clinical trials revealed that it was more effective than its competitors in relieving COPD symptoms.
People with COPD can expect this drug to be approved in the US in the second half of 2014. Stay tuned for more information and don't forget to check the FDA website to follow which COPD drugs gain approval!
November is National COPD Awareness Month and the perfect time to spread the word about COPD. Sponsored by the COPD Coalition, the observance marks a time when organizations and communities throughout America join together in an effort to increase awareness of COPD, now the third leading cause of death in this country.
The Coalition has adopted the theme, COPD Learn More Breathe Better®, from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's education and awareness campaign. The COPD Learn More Breathe Better® campaign encourages individuals and organizations alike to conduct events, discussions and other types of outreach programs within their communities to raise awareness of COPD.
Getting involved in 2013 is as easy as pie. Just start a conversation and/or, take advantage of the following resources brought to you by the COPD Foundation:
- Sign up to receive COPD Action Alerts notifying you when Congress is making decisions that have to do with COPD legislation.
- Email your family and friends about the COPD Action Center.
- Write to local newspapers about COPD.
- Find out all you can about COPD legislation.
- Learn effective communication tips for scheduling meetings, writing letters, or making phone calls to your representatives.
Don't forget, you can make a difference when it comes to increasing COPD awareness by doing your part to get involved.
Many patients with COPD use supplemental oxygen for which home pulse oximetry monitoring may be appropriate. But, pulse oximetry monitors are not infallible and along with their intrinsic benefit, they're also associated with some well-established risks. Before you purchase a home oximeter, find out more about:
For those of you using supplemental oxygen, a pulse oximeter provides you with rapid warning of impending or existing hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels). Although they are not meant to replace sound medical advice, a pulse oximeter is a must-have for patients who use in-home oxygen. Find out more about pulse oximeters and which one is best for you:
Earlier this month, emergency responders were called to Andrew Drive in Valparaiso, Indiana on account of a home fire caused by the apparent explosion of an electronic cigarette. Reportedly, the electronic cigarette was plugged into an electrical outlet that was plugged into a USB port when the battery exploded. The explosion propelled the battery which hit the curtains causing them to catch fire. Luckily no one was hurt. Chief Mark Norris with Valparaiso Fire Department says, however, that this is not an isolated incident. In February, 2012 a man from Niceville, Florida suffered serious injury when an electronic cigarette exploded in his mouth. These events raise serious questions about the safety of the electronic cigarette.
Proponents of the e-cigarette say that even the low-cost disposables don't carry enough charge to cause an explosion. Many people try to cut costs by using low-cost rechargeable batteries which may not always be safe. They also believe that events like these may be attributed to people modifying their equipment, a practice that is not recommended. That said, proponents of the tobacco alternative are quick to remind us that, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, 1000 people are killed every year in home fires due to cigarettes and other smoking materials.
How smokers of e-cigarettes can protect themselves against home explosions remains to be seen. Currently, there are no federal, and few state, regulations overseeing their use. Certainly, these events need to be thoroughly investigated and people need to use common sense if they choose to purchase and use the electronic cigarette. Until then, the battle between e-cigarette manufacturers, proponents of e-cigarettes and the FDA will continue.