News for nerds

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used for multiple lung inflammation that obstructs the passage of airflow in the lungs. Notably, it is a progressive disease that when left untreated can turn out to be fatal. Even though there’s no cure for the disease, its detection in the early stage can help achieve a higher rate of recovery and damage control. In the worse situation, a lung transplant is one of the several options available in the treatment course. In a recent interaction with HT Digital, Dr Jeenam Shah, who works as a consultant chest physician and interventional pulmonologist at Mumbai’s Bhatia Hospital, recently spoke about the treatment options available for severe COPD. The expert also explained who can be deemed eligible for a lung transplant and some of its benefits.

“For those with more severe COPD, there are several treatment options available like changing one’s way of life, utilizing a bronchodilator, a kind of drug that aids in relaxing the muscles around the airways, getting oxygen treatment in addition, being treated for lung disease, undergoing surgery, lung transplants are frequently the only option left for those with severe COPD,” said the doctor.

Who can be eligible for a lung transplant?

Another expert, Dr Chandrashekhar Kulkarni, told the portal that, people with age 60 and younger can opt for a double lung transplant, meanwhile, those above 60 are advised for a single-lung transplant. Opting for a lung transplant is likely to improve the patient’s survival rate by 18 to 24 months with little or no major health complications.

Does a lung transplant always work?

According to Kulkarni, there is no permanent cure for COPD, but getting a lung transplant can enhance the quality of life of a patient by also reducing the disease’s course. The doctor revealed that more than half of the COPD patients who undergo a transplant live at least five years. However, it is important to note that the transplant only boosts the reduction of disease, it doesn’t cure it entirely. After the operation, there are a series of factors that a patient has to look after including making necessary lifestyle changes, going for regular medical supervision, consistent use of medicines, and more. “Despite the fact that there is no treatment for COPD, many patients who might otherwise never be able to take a deep, revitalizing breath again may find life to be easier after receiving a lung transplant,” said the doctor.

What are the benefits of lung transplants for COPD patients?

Medical conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two common conditions that become the major cause of breathing issues in patients with severe COPD. Often the patients also end up at a higher risk of developing lung cancer and heart-related issues. When COPD crosses stage four, breathing becomes so difficult, that the body demands lung reduction or transplant surgery. Without timely surgery, COPD may lead to lung cancer and other more serious complication.