Among emphysema patients who were former smokers, a greater number of COPD exacerbations was associated with a greater loss of lung density, according to research published in Annals of the American Thoracic Society reported by Healio.

Researchers found:

Number of exacerbationsChange in lung density
5+ exacerbations–5.22 g/L (95% CI, –6.23 to –4.21)
1-4 exacerbations–4.16 g/L (95% CI, –4.91 to –3.41)
0 exacerbations–3.27 g/L (95% CI, –3.81 to –2.74)
Source: Healio

“We found a stepwise greater loss of lung density with increasing exacerbation frequency, predominantly in former smokers who already had some preexisting emphysema,” Surya P. Bhatt, MD, MSPH, associate professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine and medical director of the UAB Pulmonary Function and Exercise Physiology Lab, and colleagues wrote.