COPD app may help reduce exacerbations

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A new feasibility study has found that an app supporting self-managed care for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may help reduce exacerbations.
COPD describes a number of diseases, which include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In these conditions, the airways become blocked, which results in the person having difficulty breathing.
Approximately 15.7 million people in the United States — equating to roughly 6.4% of the population — have received a diagnosis of COPD.
Smoking is a key cause of COPD, but research has also linked the condition to respiratory infections and exposure to air pollutants, as well as genetic factors.
COPD can have a significant negative effect on an individual’s life. It can cause difficulty moving around, including climbing stairs, and can impair a person’s ability to work and socialize. Experts have also linked COPD to mental health issues, including depression.
One of the challenges for health services working with people with COPD is the high rate of readmission following treatment in the hospital.
The authors of the present study note that people with COPD typically receive treatment in the hospital when they experience an “acute crisis” — for example, a sudden worsening of their symptoms. Following the resolution of the acute crisis, the hospital normally discharges the individual.
However, this can leave little time for healthcare professionals to support the person and address the underlying factors that caused the acute crisis in the first place.
Research has shown that giving people the tools to self-manage their COPD while at home can reduce their rate of readmission to the hospital. However, giving this support can be beyond the resources available to many publicly funded hospitals.
Bloodletting — the practice of withdrawing blood from a person’s veins for therapeutic reasons — was common for thousands of years. In this Curiosities of Medical History feature, we look at the history of bloodletting and how it eventually fell out of favor with the medical community.
Also known as phlebotomy — from the Greek words phlebos, meaning “vein,” and temnein, meaning “to cut” — bloodletting is a therapeutic practice that started in antiquity.
Today, however, the term phlebotomy refers to the drawing of blood for transfusions or blood tests.
Some sources suggest that the original practice of bloodletting is more than 3,000 years old and that the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans — as well as many other ancient peoples — all used it for medical treatment.

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