In a study published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Hospital Clínic-IDIBAPS researchers have shown that 10% of young adults in a large sample group have low lung function, which means that the lung is not well developed. This has allowed identifying people who are at an increased risk of early onset of other chronic diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease or diabetes, and premature mortality.
The authors are Àlvar Agusti, director of the Clinic Institute of Respirator, team leader of the IDIBAPS inflammation and repair to respiratory diseases, and member of CIBERES; Guillaume Noel, a researcher at the same team; Josep Brugada, Clinic cardiologist, team leader of IDIBAPS Arrhythmias, resynchronization and cardiac imaging, and professor at the University of Barcelona (UB); and Rosa Faner, CIBERES researcher at the IDIBAPS.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of disability worldwide. So far, tobacco consumption was considered primary responsible of this disease. However, recent studies, which involved researchers from the Clínic-IDIBAPS, have shown that factors of lung development in the early years of life must also be taken into account in the development of COPD.
“If there is an abnormal lung development in early years of life, may indicate that other body organs have not developed properly either,” says Dr. Alvar Agusti.
Measured through spirometry
For the study, researchers evaluated whether low lung function in young adults was associated with a higher prevalence and early incidence of respiratory, cardiovascular or metabolic diseases. They used three cohorts with clinical, physiological, and biological data and longitudinal monitoring of more than 15,000 people in total. After analyzing the data they found that between 5% and 15% of the participants of among 25 and 40 years old had low lung function, measured through spirometry.
In addition, they also observed that there was a higher prevalence of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in this group. They found that comorbidities appeared 10 years earlier in this group than in people with normal lung function, and mortality rate was also higher. Additionally, thanks to data from one of the population cohorts, which includes data on the children of the subjects, the researchers were able to determine that the children of people who have low lung function had lower lung function than children of people with healthy lung function.
“The results of this study may have implications for clinical and public health purposes, since they show that a cheap, simple and reproducible test such as spirometry has the potential to identify a group of people at higher risk of comorbidities at early stages. Apply this technique at an early age would help implement preventive measures, make a close monitoring of this group and provide therapeutic action as soon as necessary,” says Agusti.