I was a little surprised to notice my last blog was written in August. Illness has not stopped me. The only reason being enjoying good weather and photography. I would be less than honest if I were to say that things were no harder than they were a year ago. COPD is progressive, and I do get a little more breathless than I used to. I do have to move slower at times. But as I often say. It is essential we keep moving.
A part of winter I really dislike is the coldest two or three months. The months when in the past I have often been housebound. Too cold,wet,windy, high humidity with lots of dampness in abundance during winter kicks me like a mule, leaving the only answer to stay home in the warm and dry. For that reason, I have ramped up my volunteer work. For some time I have worked with the British Lung Foundation, Wales. But have now extended into our local health board, and scientific studies paid for by the Welsh Government. The advantage is I get to go to meetings in a warm building. While meeting interesting people helping to ‘make a difference’ in our lives. I enjoy doing this as it give me a sense of purpose. Motivation to ‘move my body’. And I can see the results of the work I do.
This last week at a meeting we were told, I was part of a group of people, all with copd, have made medical history in Wales. The meeting was to show the results of scientific test I and others had agreed to be subjected to.
The tests was to check the difference in Arterial stiffness and Cardiovascular risk between copd patients, and those with good lung health. The non invasive procedures were amazing as was the equipment used. The most up to date in the word to test blood pressure in the heart. How long it takes for blood to move from one point to another. Bone density. Lung function. The heart. Aorta and arterial stiffness The tests were many. But non strenuous or taxing.
I learned the body is not made to last over 100 years. Better forget that immortality bit. Given enough time your arteries calcify into something almost as hard as bone. Blood pressure rises with age because of the hardening of the arteries and the aorta. I learned that most people over the age of 50 years have blood pressure higher than younger because of stiffening arteries and many will be classed as hypertensive at that stage. To top that your aorta and heart would wear out eventually anyway. The message is. Sorry but we are all dying. Who wants to live forever anyway.
A subject not often talked about is dying. In western society it seems to be something hidden away, as though it never happens. Death has never worried me. I cannot stop it. I am going to die. Although I would like to delay it by a few years. What most want is to live a long life. But not get so old we are infirm. Am I right?
COPD is an inflammatory disease. That is why you are given steroids sometimes. To get rid of some of that bad inflammation during an exacerbation. Some of the problem is that during a flare up the Aorta and arteries also become inflamed. And when that happens the part that was inflamed in the Aorta or arteries will calcify more. It is a slow process but is happening. As you get older your bones soften but your arteries harden. All pretty amazing stuff.
A treatment to help stop some of the extra calcifying us with copd have will be available hopefully soon. The good news is the drugs are already available as the same ones are prescribed for other illnesses. A raised heart beat, which most of us if left untreated with copd will have, when lowered, lessens the calcifying process. Watch this space. I will know when it becomes available generally for us copd patients.
Interestingly tests were taken on those with arterial hardening before and after pulmonary rehabilitation. And it was found that aortic and arterial stiffness improved with regular exercise, and blood pressure lowered at the same time. Proof that if you don’t get any exercise you are more at risk than someone that does. These results mean I will be moving my body more and be ready to huff and to puff more. Getting out of breath is not dangerous as long as your oxygen saturation is ok. If you have an oximeter keep a check to make sure you have a saturation of 90% or above at least. The end game will be we will live longer while having better tolerance to exercise. One piece of bad news is if you smoke your arteries calcify faster. Making smoking and copd end game stuff. Bet you are saying thank god I quit.
I will try to write another at least once a month. Many thanks for the many emails received from you guys over the last few months. I always appreciate them. Take care. Keep that smile. And don’t forget. Exercise is good. As is laughing. Till my next blog. Breathe easy.