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Impaired Respiratory Health and Life Course Transitions From Health to Chronic Lung Disease

      Primary prevention and interception of chronic lung disease are essential in the effort to reduce the morbidity and mortality caused by respiratory conditions. In this review, we apply a life course approach that examines exposures across the life span to identify risk factors that are associated with not only chronic lung disease but also an intermediate phenotype between ideal lung health and lung disease, termed “impaired respiratory health.” Notably, risk factors such as exposure to tobacco smoke and air pollution, as well as obesity and physical fitness, affect respiratory health across the life course by being associated with both abnormal lung growth and lung function decline. We then discuss the importance of disease interception and identifying those at highest risk of developing chronic lung disease. This work begins with understanding and detecting impaired respiratory health, and we review several promising molecular biomarkers, predictive symptoms, and early imaging findings that may lead to a better understanding of this intermediate phenotype.

      Key Words

      Abbreviations:

      ESCAPE (European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects), ILA (interstitial lung abnormality), ILD (interstitial lung disease), IPF (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis), LLN (lower limit of normal), MMP (matrix metalloproteinase)
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