Study links COVID-19 public health efforts to dramatic drop in COPD hospitalizations

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Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) analyzed data from the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) from 13 hospitals and found that public health measures designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 virus could have benefited from a substantial secondary benefit: Hospital admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) fell by 53 percent, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Medicine. This is probably due to a drop in circulating seasonal respiratory viruses such as the flu.

Hospitalizations for COPD, a group of lung diseases that make breathing difficult and worsen over time, are usually caused by outbreaks in which symptoms are triggered by factors such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, and respiratory infections. Seasonal respiratory viruses, including those that cause the common cold or flu, trigger nearly half of these outbreaks.

After a sharp drop in COPD admissions during the pandemic, researchers theorized that COVID-19’s behavioral changes — a mix of home-based orders, social distancing, masking warrants, and strict restrictions on large gatherings — not only protected against COVID-19, but could also reduce exposure to other respiratory infections.

On the contrary, they are concerned that a return to normal behavior could lead to more COPD outbreaks.

“Our study shows that behavioral changes have beyond protection against COVID-19,” said lead author Robert M. Reed, MD, a professor of medicine at UMSOM and a pulmonologist at the US Medical Center. University of Maryland (UMMC). “If we completely eliminate masks and distancing during the cold and flu season, we will allow all those viruses that have been effectively suppressed to return to rabies. There could be many diseases.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, COPD was the fourth leading cause of death worldwide and the leading cause of hospital admissions in the United States. The pandemic has caused significant changes in the , including reduced admissions for COPD and other non-COVID diseases, some of which may have been due to patients ’fear of contracting COVID in various hospital settings, as well as a shift toward telemedicine and the management of outpatient COPD during the pandemic.

To understand what may have happened to reduce COPD admissions, the researchers compared weekly for COPD in the years prior to COVID-19 in 2018 and 2019, with revenue after the institution of public health measures COVID-19. At UMMS, these measures were implemented before April 1, 2020, so the researchers chose the same five-month period each year for comparison, from April 1 to 30. of September.







Robert Reed, MD, describes the decline in COPD hospitalizations during COVID-19 and how public health measures such as masking may play a role, summarizing research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Credit: University of Maryland School of Medicine

Co-director Jennifer Y. Therefore, MD, an adjunct professor of medicine at UMSM and a specialist in COPD at UMMC, said that the electronic medical records of several hospitals in various communities in the UMMS database provided a granular evaluation of changes over time. “We have evaluated several possible causes that may affect COPD admissions, including the presence of multiple illnesses or medical conditions and the frequency of COPD exacerbations.”

The results of the database were correlated with data on respiratory viral trends from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the period January 1, 2018 to October 1, 2020.

“We found a 53 percent drop in COPD admissions across UMMS during COVID-19. This is substantial, but equally significant, the drop in weekly COPD revenue was 36 percent lower than the observed decrease. in other serious cases , included , diabetes and heart attack, ”Dr. So.

As more and more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and many of them researchers warn that a complete return to normalcy may re-expose patients with COPD to familial seasonal triggers.

“Our study did not evaluate which public health components worked to domesticate seasonal respiratory viruses, but something as simple as wearing a mask while traveling on public transportation or working from home when you are sick with a cold can help reduce the virus exposure, “Dr. Reed said.

Dr. So, who is from South Korea, said it is a cultural norm to wear masks during the winter in her home country. “The COVID-19 pandemic has helped many people around the world become more aware of the role of masking and social distancing in reducing the spread of disease,” he said.

“This is a compelling study that raises some important public health issues about protecting our populations from the most vulnerable patients after we end the COVID-19 pandemic. I certainly think it justifies a more comprehensive debate,” he said. dean of UMMS E. Albert Reece, MD, Ph.D., MBA, executive vice president of medical affairs and distinguished professor of John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers.


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More information:
Jennifer Y So et al, decreased COPD admission during the COVID-19 pandemic associated with lower burden of community respiratory viral infections, The American Journal of Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.amjmed.2021.05.008

Citation: Study Relates COVID-19 Public Health Efforts to Dramatic Fall in COPD Hospitalizations (2021, June 14) Retrieved June 14, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021- 06-links-covid-health-efforts-copd. html

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