Johns Hopkins Health Alert
One Flare-Up May Lead to Another
If you have a flare-up of COPD, there's a chance you'll have another one within two months, a new study suggests. The study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (Volume 179, page 369).
Researchers looked at daily symptom diaries that were kept for at least one year by 297 COPD patients. They found that 27% of initial COPD flare-ups (as opposed to a relapse due to failed treatment of an exacerbation) were followed by a second event within eight weeks. These recurrent flare-ups occurred despite full recovery from the preceding event.
The researchers also found that exacerbations were more common in the winter than in the summer and that "isolated" flare-ups (an exacerbation that was neither preceded within eight weeks nor followed within eight weeks by another exacerbation) tended to be about 25% more severe than the first of a series of flare-ups.
COPD exacerbations can lead to hospitalization, serious complications, and lung function decline. Many patients never fully recover the lung function lost during a flare-up. The eight weeks after a COPD flare-up appears to be a crucial time for monitoring and follow-up to prevent or minimize further events. If you experience a COPD flare-up, stay in close contact with your doctor over the next two months, and quickly report any signs of a new exacerbation to your doctor.
Posted in Lung Disorders on September 30, 2010
Reviewed January 2011
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