Clinical and genetic markers in disease progression – a study among subjects with obstructive lung diseases

Asthma, COPD, and asthma and COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS) are chronic pulmonary diseases with an obstructive component. In COPD, the obstruction is irreversible and the disease is progressive.

The aim of the study was to define and analyze factors that affected disease progression and patients’ well-being, prognosis and mortality in Chronic Airway Disease (CAD) cohort. The main focus was on COPD and ACOS patients. Retrospective data from medical records was combined with genetic and prospective follow-up data.

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for COPD and even after the diagnosis of the disease, smoking plays an important role in disease development and patient’s prognosis. Sixty percent of the COPD patients had succeeded in smoking cessation. Patients who had managed to quit smoking had lower mortality rates and less psychiatric diseases and alcohol abuse although they were older and had more cardiovascular diseases than patients who continued smoking. Genetic polymorphism rs1051730 in the nicotinic acethylcholine receptor gene (CHRNA3/5) associated with heavy smoking, cancer prevalence and mortality in two Finnish independent cohorts consisting of COPD patients and male smokers. Challenges in smoking cessation and higher mortality rates may be partly due to individual patient’s genetic composition.

Approximately 50% of COPD patients are physically inactive and the proportion was higher among current smokers. Physically active and inactive patients didn’t differ from each other in regard to age, gender or comorbidities. Bronchial obstruction explained inactivity only in severe disease. Subjective sensation of dyspnea, however, had very strong association to inactivity and was also associated to low health related quality of life (HRQoL). ACOS patients had a significantly lower HRQoL than either the patients with asthma or with COPD even though they were younger than COPD patients, had better lung functions and smaller tobacco exposure.


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