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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and peripheral neuropathy

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Author(s): Gupta Prem | Agarwal Dipti

Journal: Lung India
ISSN 0970-2113

Volume: 23;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 25;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: COPD | Peripheral neuropathy | Electrophysiological studies | Nerve conduction studies | Axonal degeneration

ABSTRACT
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death world-wide and a further increase in the prevalence as well as mortality of the disease is predicted for coming decades. There is now an increased appreciation for the need to build awareness regarding COPD and to help the thousands of people who suffer from this disease and die prematurely from COPD or its associated complication(s). Peripheral neuropathy in COPD has received scanty attention despite the fact that very often clinicians come across COPD patients having clinical features suggestive of peripheral neuropathy. Electrophysiological tests like nerve conduction studies are required to distinguish between axonal and demyelinating type of disorder that cannot be analyzed by clinical examination alone. However, various studies addressing peripheral neuropathy in COPD carried out so far have included patients with COPD having markedly varying baseline characteristics like severe hypoxemia, elderly patients, those with long duration of illness, etc. that are not uniform across the studies and make it difficult to interpret the results to a consistent conclusion. Almost one-third of COPD patients have clinical evidence of peripheral neuropathy and two-thirds have electrophysiological abnormalities. Some patients with no clinical indication of peripheral neuropathy do have electrophysiological deficit suggestive of peripheral neuropathy. The more frequent presentation consists of a polyneuropathy that is subclinical or with predominantly sensory signs, and the neurophysiological and pathological features of predominantly axonal neuropathy. The presumed etiopathogenic factors are multiple: chronic hypoxia, tobacco smoke, alcoholism, malnutrition and adverse effects of certain drugs.
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