COPD patients at risk of dangerous bacterial infections

It is well known that COPD patients run a higher risk of contracting respiratory infections. However, a new thesis from Lund University in Sweden shows that they are also at higher risk of other bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis (TB) and pneumococcal and staphylococcal infections that can cause serious illness.

The abbreviation COPD stands for and the disease makes it difficult for patients to breathe. However, the disease affects other organs as well as the lungs. It is also linked to an increased risk of conditions such as diabetes, cancer and .

"Despite this, until now most focus has been on respiratory infections; infections in other organs have not been studied to the same extent", says Dr Malin Inghammar.

In her thesis, Dr Inghammar has shown that individuals in Sweden who have been diagnosed with COPD have a three times higher risk of active tuberculosis than the population in general. They are also at higher risk of , a type of infection that can cause meningitis and septicaemia.

In another study, Malin Inghammar has looked at the presence of bacteria in the blood of COPD patients and control subjects from the general population. A wide range of bacteria, such as and , were seen to be 2.5 times more frequent in the blood of patients with COPD.

Tuberculosis is a rare disease in Sweden, so the association between COPD and TB is not of great importance in Sweden. However, the association could be important for countries such as India and China, where TB is still a common disease and where smoking is on the increase. Doctors may need to have increased awareness of -causing bacteria in any country.

"The next step is to study what causes the link. Does the cortisone treatment that is usually given to COPD patients make them vulnerable to infections? Or is the susceptibility to infection due to other factors, such as the weight loss, muscle weakness and anaemia that are associated with the condition?" asks Malin Inghammar.

Her findings could in the future lead to changes in the treatment of COPD. If COPD patients are at extra high risk of hospital-acquired infections, then perhaps more care should be taken before admitting them to hospital, and greater reflection made on all the factors that could entail an increased risk of infection.

 The thesis is entitled "Epidemiological studies of severe infections in COPD" and was presented on 11 January.

More information: Link to thesis: www.lunduniversity.lu.se/o.o.i… 12683&postid=3233372

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Common bronchodilator linked to increased deaths

Sep 15, 2008

A common bronchodilator drug which has been used for more than a decade by patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been linked to a one-third higher risk of cardiovascular-related deaths.

Recommended for you

Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

2 hours ago

As Africa's leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent's poor record in the early stages of the epidemic.

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

19 hours ago

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

Jan 30, 2015

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

Jan 30, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.