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Paula asked...

Tags: copd , smoking

I have been told that I have COPD, and that there is a very slim chance that it could be progressive? I am an ex smoker - I smoked for around 15 years and gave up 14 years ago. I have as a result of the COPD a LBBB and a leaky valve which has all come to light due to a dodgy ECG, is this right about COPD that there is a type related to some kind of liver disease and is progressive?

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The Answer

In the vast majority of cases, the lung damage that leads to COPD is caused by long-term cigarette smoking. But there are likely other factors at play in the development of COPD, such as a genetic susceptibility to the disease, because only about 25 percent of smokers develop COPD.

Other irritants can cause COPD, including secondhand smoke, air pollution and workplace exposure to dust, smoke or fumes. In about 1% of people the disease is a result of a genetic disorder that causes low levels of a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin. Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAt) is made in the liver and secreted into the bloodstream to help protect the lungs. Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency can affect the liver as well as the lungs. Damage to the liver can occur in infants and children, not just adults with long smoking histories.

For adults with COPD related to AAt deficiency, treatment options include those used for people with more common types of COPD. In addition, some people can be treated by replacing the missing AAt protein, which may prevent further damage to the lungs. Your doctor would have to test you for this. Treatment for AAt COPD is the same for COPD. Stop smoking, avoiding irritants and medical management with medication. Your condition will be monitored via your GP surgery usually via their COPD clinic.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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