What is COPD?
According to data compiled by the American Lung Association, over 11 million people in the United States have been formally diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a progressive group of lung diseases, which includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema and refractory asthma. It is also worth noting that many of those who have the disease are not aware that they have it as the effects are cumulative. In most cases, it can take years before symptoms ever become apparent.
Although there is currently no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, there is a variety of effective treatments. One of these treatments includes testosterone-replacement therapy, which is aimed at minimizing the risk of respiratory-related hospitalizations that stem from the disease. Lets look at what this relatively new treatment entails and why it is becoming a go-to for physicians and patients alike.
Initially, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is asymptomatic; however, as the disease progresses, patients will often exhibit symptoms that are synonymous with lung damage. These symptoms often include a nagging cough, thick mucus and shortness of breath. However, to confirm the presence of the disease, patients will have to undergo a spirometry exam, which is a breathing test used to confirm the diagnosis of the disease and to determine how far it has progressed.
Before detailing how testosterone-replacement therapy is revolutionizing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease treatments, let’s take a look at what the current treatment protocols entail.
After being formally diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, patients are given a prescription for a bronchodilator, which can be used to relax airway muscles whenever a person has a difficult time breathing. Also, physicians will often recommend that patients get flu and pneumonia vaccinations, as these two diseases can worsen respiratory problems. Needless to say, patients will also be instructed to stop smoking.
Beyond that, patients will have to undergo routine testing that may include the following:
- Lung tests
- Chest X-rays
- Six-minute walk test
- Blood test
Low testosterone is an unfortunate byproduct of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and current treatments that include inhaled corticosteroids can make matters worse. Fortunately, TRT (testosterone-replacement therapy) is a new treatment that can improve lung function while simultaneously increasing testosterone levels, at least based on a study conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. According to Jacques Baillargeon, a professor in preventive medicine and community health, the study was designed to gauge the effectiveness of using TRT to slow the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, it should be noted that these studies only included men with the disease.
According to Baillargeon, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is the first to ever conduct a large-scale study to determine the effectiveness of TRT in slowing the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The study comprised of 450 men between the ages 40 and 63 who were formally diagnosed with the disease and were receiving testosterone-replacement therapy between 2005 and 2015.
In addition, the university culled data from the national Medicare database, which added an additional 253 men ages 66 and over who were also diagnosed with the disease and underwent testosterone-replacement therapy from 2008 through 2013. In the end, researchers concluded that the participants in their 40s who were treated with TRT were 4.2 percent less likely to be hospitalized as a result of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than those who did not receive TRT and relied on traditional treatments.
This percentage was higher among older men, with a nine-percent decrease in respiratory-related hospitalizations. All in all, the study conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston mirrors much of what has already been published with respect to TRT and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Basically, the treatment is very promising; however, more research will be needed to confirm long-term safety and efficacy. For example, additional data is needed to show how patients respond with the coadministration of other medications. Also, there is limited information that details how diet and other lifestyle factors play into the effectiveness of TRT. Lastly, more data is needed to determine how quickly TRT slows the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.