Posts Tagged ‘former smokers’

Lung Disease Often Missed in Long-term Smokers

As many as 35 million Americans who smoke or who are former smokers may have undiagnosed lung disease or impairment.

Long-term Smokers May Have Undiagnosed Lung Disease

• Current and former smokers who do not have airflow obstruction may assume that they are free of disease.

• But millions of long-term smokers with normal spirometry results may have undiagnosed lung disease.

• A cross-sectional, observational study included more than 9000 persons aged 45 to 80 years who had smoked at least 1 pack of cigarettes daily for 10 years.

• Most smoked more than 1 pack per day; about half were considered disease-free based on their lung-function test results.

Nearly Half of Smokers Have CT Evidence of Disease

• One or more respiratory-related impairments were found in 54.1% of patients. This group had worse quality of life compared with never-smokers, as well as a shorter 6-minute walk distance.

• In this group, 42.3% had CT evidence of emphysema or airway thickening.

• Current smoking was associated with more respiratory symptoms, but former smokers had greater emphysema and gas trapping.

• Advancing age was associated with smoking cessation and with more CT findings of disease.

Unrecognized Disease in 35 Million Older Americans

• Those with respiratory impairments were more likely to use respiratory medications, and the use of these medications was associated with worse disease.

• Lung disease and impairments were common in smokers without spirometric chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

• The researchers projected that 35 million current and former smokers older than 55 years in the United States may have unrecognized disease or impairment.

Take-home Message:

• The effect of chronic smoking on the lungs is substantially underestimated when spirometry is used alone.