Smog linked to organ rejection, deaths in lung transplant patients
Living near busy roads with high levels of air pollution raises lung transplant patients’ risk of organ rejection and death, but some antibiotics lower that risk, a new study shows.
Researchers examined data gathered from more than 5,700 lung transplant patients in 10 European countries between 1987 and 2013.
The analysis revealed that patients who lived in areas where air pollution was above maximum levels recommended by the World Health Organization ( WHO) were 10 percent more likely to die than those in areas with lower levels of pollution.
But this increased risk of death was not seen among patients who took a class of antibiotics called macrolides, which include azithromycin (Zithromax) and clarithromycin (Biaxin), according to the study presented Tuesday at a meeting of the European Respiratory Society in Amsterdam.
“Short and long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increase in deaths from respiratory diseases, particularly among vulnerable populations. Lung transplant patients are among the most vulnerable because they have weakened immune systems due to the immunosuppressive drugs they have to take to prevent organ rejection,” study author Dr. David Ruttens said in a European Lung Foundation news release. Ruttens is a specialist in respiratory medicine at the University of Leuven in Belgium.