COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and is a term used to cover a number of serious lung conditions, including Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis and Bronchiectasis. Some people with COPD will have just one of these conditions, others will have a combination of two or more, and many will also have some kind of asthma.
COPD is the third biggest killer in the States, after heart disease and cancer, killing more than 126,000 Americans every year. Usually occurring in adults aged over 40, the American Lung Association estimates that in 2002 11.2 million Americans had COPD, with another 12 million Americans having impaired lung function that was likely to progress to COPD. Until 2000, more men died from COPD than women but more recently more and more women suffer from COPD. The rise of COPD in women is an ongoing concern.
How our lungs work
When we breathe in, the air we breathe goes down our windpipe and into pipes called bronchial tubes or airways. The air progresses into thinner tubes called bronchioles and ends in thousands of tiny sacs called alveoli.
Once the air gets to the alveoli, the oxygen passes through the sac wall into tiny blood vessels, known as capillaries. While this is happening, a gas exchange occurs; carbon dioxide is passed from the capillaries to the air sacs.
The alveoli are elastic, so that when we breathe in every sac fills up with air like a miniscule balloon and when we breathe out, the carbon dioxide leaves the sac and it becomes deflated.
What does COPD do?
If you have COPD, the air flowing in and out of your lungs is restricted. As COPD is progressive, it will become harder to breathe in or out as the disease progresses. The air flow to and from the lungs is reduced because of one of the following:
- The airways and alveoli lose their elasticity so are less able to fill up when you breathe in and squeeze carbon dioxide out when you breathe out.
- The lining of the air tubes thickens, meaning that less gas can get through.
- The walls between the alveoli are destroyed.
- The air tubes produce too much mucus, clogging them up and restricting air flow.
Causes of COPD
The biggest cause of COPD is cigarette smoking; in fact the American Lung Association estimates that between 80 and 90% of people who have COPD have smoked or still do smoke. Some people that have never smoked still get COPD and the biggest causes of COPD in non-smokers are passive smoking or second hand smoke, outdoor air pollution and exposure to work related dusts, such as coalmine dust, grain dust, cotton or silica dust, and other work-place related chemicals.
A small number of COPD patients suffer from what is known as Alpha-1-Antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency. This is a genetic deficiency passed down from one or both parents at birth. If someone suffers from AAT deficiency the onset of COPD will typically happen earlier than environmentally caused COPD, and will often start between the ages of 32 and 41. The treatment of COPD caused by AAT deficiency is different to caused COPD so if you are diagnosed with COPD at an early age you should ask your doctor for a blood test to see if your COPD is caused by an AAT deficiency rather than smoking or environmental factors.
Symptoms of COPD
Common symptoms include wheezing, fatigue, chronic cough, increase mucus production, fatigue, chest infections, and chest tightness. For more information on the symptoms of COPD click here.
How can Stem Cell Treatment Help?
Stem Cells are blank cells, with the ability to change into almost any cell in the body. Every day your body works by sending stem cells and fixing damaged tissue without you even knowing it. By extracting more of your stem cells and delivering a big batch to your system we help your body to repair itself.
Stem Cells can help COPD and save lives by helping to stop the damage done to the lungs. As all COPD conditions are progressive, it is best to act as fast as you can in getting damaged lungs treated as soon as possible.
If you would like to know more about COPD and what we can do for you here at Stem Cell Mexico then contact us for a prompt response from one of our trained US-based case workers.