COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death in the world; in 2019 it caused 3.23 million deaths. Smoking, main factor; with the "electronic" cigarette, benzene derivatives are inhaled, a solvent related to types of gasoline. World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day is commemorated on the third Wednesday of November.

There are currently more than 300 million people in the world with shortness of breath, chronic expectoration, and cough, symptoms caused by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a preventable and treatable condition that represents the third leading cause of death globally and is highly prevalent in low-income countries.

Exposure to tobacco smoke, various organic particles, and inhaled toxic gases are the main risk factors. It can also be due to working with materials such as asbestos, silica, metals, or with some other type of dust that causes a nonexclusive disease called pneumoconiosis, explains Francisco Navarro Reynoso, a postgraduate academic at the Faculty of Medicine of the UNAM, at the General Hospital of Mexico (HGM) "Dr. Eduardo Liceaga".

He explained that at the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, a significant number of adults over 50 years of age were treated, either with diabetes, hypertension, or COPD, a situation that was attenuated after the vaccination period. In the case of those who had the latter, their respiratory function decreased considerably and they had great difficulty in breathing. Therefore, the patients with both diseases showed "a greater aggravation, because we must not lose sight of the fact that the former is an inflammatory disease of the whole body, and the symptoms are according to the organs affected", the specialist asserts.

When a person worsens and requires mechanical ventilation, the management is even more complex because he or she will need a greater amount of oxygen and ventilation parameters than those who do not have it. The World Health Organization points out that it is the third leading cause of death in the world, even though the figures for 2020 and so far in 2021 have not been published. However, in 2019 alone it caused 3.23 million deaths, which represented comparatively more than 60 percent of the deaths due to COVID-19 (which amounts to more than five million) since the pandemic began.

Causes, symptoms

The interventional bronchoscopist of the MGH indicates that those who have acquired COPD are over 45 years of age; however, asthmatics are another group in which cases are registered and whose symptoms can appear from eight years of age or younger. On the occasion of the World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day, which is commemorated on the third Wednesday of November, Navarro Reynoso explains that among the signs are: shortness of breath, cough with expectoration, swelling or edema of the feet, as well as difficulty in lying down and staying in a horizontal position.

However, he specifies, some could be confused with cardiovascular conditions and sometimes with hematological diseases; these situations go hand in hand, so he recommends early medical evaluation. The member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Mexican Academy of Surgery comments that the first factor that causes the condition is smoking through the consumption of cigarettes, pipes, cigars and now with the "vaping" ("electronic" cigarette), through which one inhales derivatives of substances associated with benzene, an industrial solvent related to gasoline.

COPD in Mexico

According to the preliminary report "Characteristics of the deaths registered in Mexico during 2020", issued last July 29 by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), out of the 1,86,94 thousand deaths registered during that year, 21,972 were chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. COPD is one of the ten leading causes of death in people over 55 years of age. The number of women who died from this cause is 10,62 thousand (45.8 percent), while in men, 11,910 (54.2 percent).