Patients suffering from severe lung disease could see their lives transformed thanks to a ‘game-changing’ clinical trial carried out by UK experts and led by the team from the Lane Fox Respiratory Service based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.
The HOT-HMV trial (Home Oxygen Therapy-Home Mechanical Ventilation), which involved giving selected patients a breathing machine to be used in their home in addition to oxygen therapy, was found to reduce readmissions to hospital following an acute infection.
The results of the trial, which have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), were announced at the American Thoracic Society’s prestigious annual conference in Washington, DC.
In the UK alone, approximately 30,000 people die from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) every year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that COPD will be the world’s third largest killer disease by 2020.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterised by increasing breathlessness.
Respiratory experts, Professor Nicholas Hart and Dr Patrick Murphy, who co-ordinated the UK-wide trial from St Thomas’ Hospital, said the trial results could pave the way for a complete change in the way that the most severely affected COPD patients across the world are treated.
Professor Hart explained, ‘The only current treatment we have to give these patients is oxygen therapy, but now we can give them oxygen as well as a ventilator in their home. We have managed to reduce the likelihood of readmission to hospital by almost 50 per cent.
‘In the trial we used a home ventilator that co-ordinates itself with the individual patient’s breathing. The mask ventilator machine works by blowing in air and oxygen to keep oxygen levels high and carbon dioxide, the waste gas, low.’
The trial was carried out thanks to funding and equipment from manufacturers Philips Respironics and ResMed, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.