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Journal: Internal and Emergency Medicine


Given that many patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) smoke despite their symptoms, it is important to understand the long-term health impact of cigarette substitution with heated tobacco products (HTPs). We monitored health parameters for 3 years in COPD patients who substantially attenuated or ceased cigarette consumption after switching to HTPs. Changes in daily cigarette smoking, annualized disease exacerbations, lung function indices, patient-reported outcomes (CAT scores) and 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) from baseline were measured in COPD patients using HTPs at 12, 24 and 36 months. These were compared to a group of age- and sex-matched COPD patients who continued smoking. Complete data sets were available for 38 patients (19 in each group). Subjects using HTPs had a substantial decrease in annualized COPD exacerbations within the group mean (± SD) from 2.1 (± 0.9) at baseline to 1.4 (± 0.8), 1.2 (± 0.8) and 1.3 (± 0.8) at 12-, 24- and 36-month follow-up (p < 0.05 for all visits). In addition, substantial and clinically significant improvements in CAT scores and 6MWD were identified at all three time points in the HTP cohort. No significant changes were observed in COPD patients who continued smoking. This study is the first to describe the long-term health effects of HTP use in COPD patients. Consistent improvements in respiratory symptoms, exercise tolerance, quality of life, and rate of disease exacerbations were observed in patients with COPD who abstained from smoking or substantially reduced their cigarette consumption by switching to HTP use.