Patients with COPD often ask if there is anything they can do at home to help them with their symptoms. COPD is caused by repeated, chronic exposure to particulate matter and noxious gases (usually cigarette smoke). Smoking cessation is associated with slower progression of COPD, but former smokers still have a progressive increase in morbidity.
Outdoor air pollution is known to have negative effects on patients with COPD, but the indoor environment is also of significant concern because most COPD patients spend most of their time indoors. Indoor concentrations of particulate matter in the homes of former smokers have been associated with worse respiratory symptoms, worse quality of life, and more frequent exacerbations.
Many patients will ask about the use of home air cleaners to help clean the air in their homes and help reduce symptoms. Up until now, I have been reluctant to strongly advise patients to suffer the expense of air cleaning units on their heating and cooling systems, especially since little objective data was available. A recent study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is making me change my mind. Not about central cleaning units, but about portable air cleaning units in the home. The unit used in the study was the Austin HealthMate HM400. Patients using this device had fewer respiratory symptoms, lower rescue medication use, and reduced exacerbatio