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A New Hope for Severe COPD Patients

Blount Memorial Sleep Health Center has recently correlated advances in non-invasive ventilatory support with that of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatment. Like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea,a new device calledbi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP),is showing significant decreases in a COPD patient’s chances of needing to be placed on an invasive lifesaving ventilator.

Dr. Jaber Hassan with the Blount Memorial Sleep Health Center explains that while many people don’t make a correlation between sleep apnea and COPD, the method of treatment is quite similar. “BPAP or BiPAP systems use a mask to deliver air pressure, rather than requiring a tube to be placed in the trachea. It’s very similar to a CPAP system, and has saved many lives, shortened hospital stays, reduced the costs incurred with using a ventilator, and has helped prevent the overall deterioration of quality of life,” he explained.

Operationally, the BPAP device helps in the relaxation of the breathing muscles at night. “These muscles usually are overworked to the point of exhaustion, causing shortness of breath and the retention of carbon dioxide in the lungs. With the right patient, use of a BPAP machine at night can improve carbon dioxide and oxygen levels during the day on a chronic basis,” said Hassan. “With careful monitoring, maximization of care, vaccination, screening for sleep apnea and consideration of home BPAP systems when appropriate, we potentially can make remarkable reductions in the effects of COPD.”


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