Does heat make your COPD symptoms worse?

High indoor and outdoor temperatures worsen symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), scientists say. This is especially true in homes that also have high levels of air pollutants, according to a new study.
The study involved sixty-nine patients with moderate to severe COPD on the hottest days of the year. Previous research has shown that older adults are particularly vulnerable to heat exposure and are more likely to die or be hospitalized during extreme heat, the authors note. The work builds on these findings and explores the impact of external factors at the individual level, including at home. The effect of temperature on specific health outcomes for people with COPD is assessed. This is the first study of the relationship between temperature and indoor air pollution in disease.
The participants filled out a questionnaire daily, their symptoms were assessed – shortness of breath, cough and sputum secretion, and spirometry was also performed daily. The information was analyzed along with measurements of two air pollutants in their homes – fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – as well as outdoor temperatures during the study period. The researchers found that patients spent most of their time indoors. On the days when they went outside, they spent an average of about two hours there. The rates worsened with increasing indoor temperatures, and the use of inhalers increased. The effects of high indoor temperatures were exacerbated by increased levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. A ten-degree increase in home temperature with PM2.5 at the 75th percentile resulted in a dramatic increase in symptoms, compared with a moderate increase in symptoms when the particulate pollutant was at the 25th percentile. Lung function as measured by spirometry was not affected by increased temperatures or higher levels of indoor air pollutants. Despite the fact that 86% of the participants lived in an air-conditioned home, they did not turn it on during 37% of the study days. It is noted that even a short walk down the street on hot days led to the appearance of respiratory symptoms. In a recent study on the health effects of air pollution associated with PM2.5 and ozone levels in cities across the United States, researchers found that reducing these air pollutants to and below EPA levels is likely to save thousands of lives. each year and leads to a decrease in the number of serious illnesses, as well as significantly reduces the days of absence from work and school. The results of the study can be used by specialists to develop targeted measures and strategies for mitigating climate change in order to protect the most vulnerable groups of the population from the effects of high temperatures. Optimizing indoor climate and reducing indoor air pollution has the potential to improve health, scientists say.

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