Emphysema causes permanent damage to the lungs, making the airways so small that it becomes increasingly difficult for air to get in.
Martha Crumley has emphysema, and a year ago, she could hardly breathe; much less exercise, but she is one of two people in a clinical trial called ‘aspire', testing a procedure to see if it helps a patient breathe by blocking off parts of the lung damaged by the disease.
Here's how it works, a tube is inserted through the mouth and into the lungs, when it's released, it blocks off the airways to the damaged portion of the lungs.
Martha says she could feel a difference almost immediately.
"I have more energy, I can breathe easier. It has just really sort of given me a new lease on life, whereas before I thought. Ok I'm just gonna sit around and die, where as now I've gotten past that. And it's just really given you new hope," says Crumley.
So far, the procedure has increased Martha's lung function by 25%.
It is still under study, and not approved yet by the FDA.
For patient information about emphysema and how this new procedure might help, go to the web and search for Aspire Clinical Study.
This website is very technical but provides more insight from the National Institutes of Health http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01449292</url>.
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