Detailing the latest lung health data from ATS 2022
Location is everything – it’s a phrase you may have heard at some point, and it’s a phrase that comes true when discussing lung health with Al Rizzo, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association (ALA) and host of the monthly respiratory health podcast Lungcast.
HCP Live met Dr. Rizzo at the American Thoracic Society’s 2022 International Conference in San Francisco to talk about all things pulmonology, including the 2022 State of the Air Report released by ALA in late April.
The 23rd version of the report found that more than 137 million Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of particulate pollution or ozone.
“Usually these are people with lung diseases such as asthma and COPD having increased symptoms during times when there are high ozone levels or high particulate pollution,” Rizzo said. in terms of how it affects people with lung disease, Rizzo said. pollution is more difficult to remove, but air quality indices can be used, and many municipalities and local radio stations often report the air quality index daily.
He added that the report is being conducted in a way that allows the public as well as municipalities and state legislatures to advocate for changes to clean air initiatives. This is especially helpful when discussing some of the health disparities that exist due to heavy pollution in more racially and ethnically diverse populations across the country.
“The social determinants of health are affected by where people live, where they work, whether they have access to care or insurance – all of these factors play a role,” he said. “And if you’re someone who has to live in an area where the air quality isn’t as good, you’re going to have symptoms, (and) you may not have access to the care that you need or cannot avoid this area due to your limited resources.
Likewise, allergies can also affect lung health, especially as we continue to experience longer and more severe allergy seasons. Rizzo attributed, in part, to climate change, saying it also leads to drier seasons and more wildfires.
During the second half of the interview, the conversation turned to several lung conditions currently being highlighted at ATS 2022, including pulmonary arterial hypertension.
“The main area where there is a lot of research and drug development is in high blood pressure which can be seen in people with interstitial lung diseases such as scleroderma and certainly those with primary high blood pressure,” said Rizzo said. “Much of the pulmonary hypertension that we see in many people is often secondary to heart or lung disease…so the drugs available for PAH are not as helpful for grades 2 and 3 of the World Health Organization.”
For more from Dr. Rizzo on advances in pulmonary medicine, as well as how these conditions might affect patients’ sleep health, watch the full interview above.