Determining lung sensor capacity to understand COPD hospitalizations
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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common lung disease that affects breathing and lung function. COPD exacerbations, or worsening of baseline symptoms, is the leading cause of ER visits and hospitalizations which are only increasing in Wisconsin. Such exacerbations unmask many breathing control problems in COPD.
While the lungs are the site for air to move in and out of the body, an area in the brain controls when and how we breathe. This area in the brain receives sensory inputs from many regions in the body, including nerve fibers in the lung. The brain region controlling breathing integrates the inputs and elicits the proper signals to our respiratory muscles to breathe. Impaired sensing or integration can result in insufficient breathing. Because many COPD patients retain CO2 in their blood independent of lung damage and have reduced CO2 sensing, COPD breathing problems arise from a combination of structural lung damage and breathing control problems. How COPD impairs breathing control and how this is impacted upon an exacerbation remains unknown and is the focus of this research project.
Through this award, investigators aim to better understand whether an imbalance of sensory input from specific pulmonary nerves to the brain regions that control breathing underlies breathing control problems in COPD and associated health complications.
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