Controlling the symptoms of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is tough, but twice as challenging for those who have both diseases.
“Most people take breathing for granted,” said William Cullifer, a Folsom, Calif., resident who has battled severe asthma daily for 15 years and COPD for about half that time.
“In addition to fighting to breathe all the time, there are frightening times each day when it’s like being stuck in a small space and sucking air through a tight straw.”
Cullifer is describing his experiences with a condition that UC Davis pulmonary specialists Samuel Louie and Amir Zeki have named asthma-COPD overlap syndrome, or ACOS.
The physicians recognized the high incidence of the condition — defined by the higher number and intensity of symptoms — after evaluating UC Davis patients with obstructive lung diseases and finding that ACOS was present in about a quarter of patients with severe asthma.
They also observed that, on average, 1 in 5 patients with obstructive lung diseases have ACOS.
“It’s standard in our field to diagnose COPD or asthma but not both,” said Louie, professor of internal medicine. “That can lead to treatment plans that don’t fully address the breathing problems of a large group of patients and that put them at risk of losing rather than preserving their lung health.”
In articles published in the Journal of Allergy, Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology and Consultant 360, Louie and Zeki presented a diagnosis and treatment approach for patients with asthma, COPD or ACOS.
To ensure a bright future, Peter Cala believes it’s crucial to help bright young people maximize their full potential.
The UC Davis professor and Arline Miller Rolkin Endowed Chair in Physiology and Membrane Biology is heavily involved in efforts to nurture junior academics.
For his dedication to mentorship, Cala has earned a dean’s award from UC Davis Health System.
“I was fortunate to have had a number of dedicated and enthusiastic mentors, and it was a great help to me,” said Cala, whose research focuses on ways to prevent cell damage associated with a restricted blood supply.
“I want to be sure that the next generation has the same opportunities and advantages that I enjoyed.”