COPD and smoking may increase death risk in COVID-19

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Scientists from University College London found that smokers and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have an increased risk of severe complications and higher death with COVID-19 infection.

The research is published in journal PLOS ONE and was conducted by Jaber Alqahtani et al.

COPD is a common, persistent dysfunction of the lung associated with a limitation in airflow. An estimated 251 million people worldwide are affected by COPD.

Given the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus on respiratory function, the team sought to understand the prevalence and the effects of COPD in COVID-19 patients.

They searched databases of scientific papers to find existing publications features of COVID-19 and the prevalence of COPD in COVID-19 patients.

The included studies had a total of 2473 confirmed COVID-19 patients. 58 (2.3%) of those patients also had COPD while 221 (9%) were smokers.

The researchers found that critically ill COVID-19 patients with COPD had a 63% risk of severe disease and a 60% risk of death risk while critically ill patients without COPD had only a 33.4% risk of severe disease and 55% risk of mortality.

In addition, smokers were 1.45 times more likely to have severe complications compared to former and never smokers.

The study was not able to examine whether there was an association between the frequency of COPD exacerbations, or severity of COPD, with COVID-19 outcomes or complications.

The results are limited by the fact that few studies were available to review, as well as the diverse locations, settings, and designs of the included studies.

The team says despite the low prevalence of COPD and smoking in COVID-19 cases, COPD and current smokers were associated with greater COVID-19 severity and mortality.

If you care about smoking, please read studies about why most smokers don’t get lung cancer, and this anti-smoking drug may treat Parkinson’s in women.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about how to prevent loss of smell and taste from COVID-19, and results showing these people have less severe COVID-19 infections.

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