Study: Lung Infection Screens Could Improve COPD Treatment

Scanning chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients for bacteria in the lungs could help healthcare providers identify patients who are more at risk for respiratory symptoms, according to research published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Researchers analyzed breathlessness, cough data and sputum cultures for several cohorts of COPD patients every day for two weeks. At the end of the data collection period, they found the sickest patients were also the ones with higher bacteria counts — of Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, Streptococcus pneumonae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa — in the lungs. COPD damages the lungs' ability to defend against bacteria, according to a Futurity analysis of the study.

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Researchers suggested therapy targeted at reducing bacterial counts in COPD patients' lungs could reduce daily symptoms and improve quality of life for patients with the condition.

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