It is well known that COPD patients run a higher risk of contracting respiratory infections. However, a new thesis from Lund University in Sweden shows that they are also at higher risk of other bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis (TB) and pneumococcal and staphylococcal infections that can cause serious illness.
The abbreviation COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the disease makes it difficult for patients to breathe. However, the disease affects other organs as well as the lungs. It is also linked to an increased risk of conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart failure.
"Despite this, until now most focus has been on respiratory infections; infections in other organs have not been studied to the same extent", says Dr Malin Inghammar.
In her thesis, Dr Inghammar has shown that individuals in Sweden who have been diagnosed with COPD have a three times higher risk of active tuberculosis than the population in general. They are also at higher risk of invasive pneumococcal disease, a type of infection that can cause meningitis and septicaemia.
In another study, Malin Inghammar has looked at the presence of bacteria in the blood of COPD patients and control subjects from the general population. A wide range of bacteria, such as coliform bacteria and staphylococcus aureus, were seen to be 2.5 times more frequent in the blood of patients with COPD.