COPD affects several Americans across the country each year. COPD is short for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is a combinations of many of different conditions that negatively affect the lungs along with damage and inflammation tot he airways. Physicians do not look at the genetic factor that may take place in developing this disease when believing that someone may be at risk. There are many risk factors that have a severe affect on causing COPD and making it significantly worse. There may also be a genetic link to determine the risks of individuals that may be at a higher risk for developing COPD in the future.
The genetic link that some people may have to COPD is called AAT. Also known as alpha-1 antitrypsin. The only way to be at risk for COPD would be to have a deficient of AAT. It has been determined by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, that about 100,000 individuals living in the United States have an AAT deficiency that increases their risk of developing COPD. A person who lives in an environment with clean air and is a non-smoker can still be diagnosed with COPD if found with a deficient in AAT. There is not a specific test that physicians do to determine if someone has an AAT deficiency, therefore they may never even know if they have it. Instead, they look for the following signs, shortness of breathe, wheezing, a persistent cough, and regular respiratory infections. Individuals that are AAT deficient have a chance of developing COPD at the early age of twenty years old.
In order to try and prevent the development of COPD is to stay away from many risks factors such as smoking and polluted air. The only way that an individual can be AAT deficient is if it is passed down through both parents carrying the deficient gene. If the gene is passed along through only one parent then the individual will not be AAT deficient, but it could be passed on to their children. The AAT deficiency may not be as common as the risk factors that contribute to COPD. People who is AAT deficient should talk to their doctor, reduce their vulnerability to the risk factors, and make lifestyle changes if necessary. Personally I believe that people should be aware of the risk factors and avoid them as much as possible whether they have the deficiency or not. By ensuring good health, taking the necessary steps to be educated on the risk factors can decrease the amount of people suffering from this disease.
Related Article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1519/