The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that around 3.5 million people in America live with emphysema. When you live with emphysema, you may not be able to work. Emphysema patients often have a difficult time getting enough oxygen into their bodies because their lungs cannot work effectively.
Until around July of 2021, it was difficult to treat patients, and pharmacological treatments were limited. Some invasive procedures could provide relief, such as lung transplants, but patients had to first qualify for them.
There is a new treatment option for patients with emphysema, though, which may help. It is called bronchoscopic lung volume reduction with endobronchial valves. This procedure has been shown to improve lung function and reduce shortness of breath. This was done by improving how well gases were exchanged in the lungs, which allowed the healthier areas to re-expand.
What does this mean for emphysema patients receiving disability?
Patients with COPD and emphysema may want to look into this treatment because it has been shown to provide clinically meaningful improvements in FEV1 levels. It has also been shown to increase the quality of life parameters, dyspnea score and target lobe volume reduction. While this may not reverse a patient’s disability, it is possible to improve their overall health if the procedure goes as planned.
The implanted valves are intended to be permanent but can be removed. As a relatively new surgery, this treatment is being suggested for patients who would most likely benefit, such as Stage III and IV patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the valves in July 2021.