A complicated week is coming for canaries with chronic diseases. The presence of the winter calm, together with the contamination of urban areas and the increasingly intense circulation of the influenza virus, will become a dangerous cocktail for patients with COPD, asthma, heart failure and ischemic heart disease, who run the risk of worsening their diagnoses over the next two days.
This is confirmed by pulmonologists Lorenzo Pérez and Hemily Izaguirre, from the University Hospital Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria and the University Hospital of the Canary Islands (HUC), respectively, who agree that the best thing for these patients is to avoid these weather conditions during the days prolong this episode of calima.
According to the predictions of the Supercomputing Center of Barcelona, through the NMMB / BSC-Dust model, the Canary Islands face an intrusion of Saharan dust that began yesterday and will have a peak in activity this Wednesday. In fact, on January 15, dust concentrations are expected to exceed 176 microns per cubic meter. This is a portion that will be well above the particle concentration recommendations with a diameter of up to 10 microns established by the European Union: 50 micrograms per cubic meter daily.
Two different times
Calimas in the Canary Islands usually appear at two key moments, during the summer and in the winter months and early spring. However, while those that happen in summer are introduced to the Islands in the upper layers of the atmosphere, those of winter do so at low levels and become a much worse threat. This is because the cold air bag that accumulates in the upper layer of the atmosphere cages the stale air with dust particles near the surface. In that lower layer, the calima is mixed with the surrounding influenza virus – which is estimated to become an epidemic in the Islands in the coming weeks – and, in urban areas, with greenhouse gases, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3) and sulfur oxide (SO2).
Pérez describes this special scenario that already affects the Archipelago – and will do so in greater proportion in the coming days – as “the perfect storm”. The doctor points out that this next week will be “complicated”, especially for patients with chronic heart and respiratory diseases. In this sense, remember that, just as when a good shower is present, it is best to “wait for it to happen.” In fact, the recommendations of the Public Health Directorates and experts always go in the same direction: the patient of this type of pathologies should avoid exposure to this phenomenon as much as possible. “If you have to stay at home, let him do it,” says Pérez, who in turn emphasizes that “it is not the time to go to the Emergency Department.” Something that coincides with Hemily Izaguirre that urges patients to follow the plan of action prescribed by the doctor, if he had one. However, both emphasize that “if the patient suffers a decompensation of his chronic disease”, he must go immediately to his nearest Emergency Department to be able to alleviate it.
This vitiated air affects patients with a chronic asthmatic condition to a greater extent. In fact, the damage is such that some continue to show symptoms after having aspirated dust in suspension 72 hours after the phenomenon has ceased. That at least is what the research group of the HUC Pulmonology Service found in one of his latest studies on the incidence of saharan dust in suspension in patients with lung diseases, in which researchers also participated the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) and the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC).
“It depends on the days that the episode of Calima is prolonged,” says Izaguirre. But also the care that these patients have with their health, because “they often stop treatment.” “Asthmatic patients tend to be poorly adherent to treatment,” insists Izaguirre, who remarks that, on many occasions, “they feel better, but their bronchial tubes have not been swollen, which, together with the calima, causes the patient to worsen.” Thus, on the days that the episode of Calima continues – this time it will be three -, it will be necessary to add at least two more days to know how long it will take until the respiratory flow of these patients returns to normal. At the time of discharge, these patients are usually increased “the doses of the inhaled treatment until the process passes and the baseline situation improves.”