Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) damages the airways inside of our lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Patients suffer “lung attacks”, characterized by coughing, breathlessness and a dramatic increase in sputum. If caught early enough―or better yet, prevented―these lung attacks can be effectively treated with medication. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of lung attacks can resemble pneumonia, heart attacks or even the flu. Lung attacks reduce patient quality of life and cost the Canadian health care system nearly $4 billion dollars each year in direct and indirect costs.
Drs. Don Sin, Raymond Ng and team will develop new blood tests that will identify patients at high risk for lung attacks as well as differentiate these attacks from other conditions. This means lung attacks can be prevented or treated earlier than was previously possible. Ultimately, patients who need preventative drugs will receive them, resulting in fewer attacks, as well as reduced hospitalization and emergency visits. At the same time, patients at low risk of an attack will be able to avoid unnecessary drugs and their potential side effects.