People who develop chronic cough and phlegm (sputum production) are at significantly high risk of developing chronic obstructive artery disease (COAD).
COAD, also called as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is the fourth leading cause of death. It is a combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema where the lungs get enlarged and weak. The main cause of COAD is smoking.
Quoting a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Dr. Aggarwal said that the presence of chronic cough and phlegm in smokers is not an innocent symptom but is an early marker of airflow obstruction. In the study, people who developed chronic cough and phlegm had a four fold higher risk of developing COAD. Until now it was thought that only 15% of smokers develop COAD but the current literature suggests that the lifetime risk of COAD in smokers is more than 50%. If not managed properly COAD leads to heart involvement resulting into right heart failure with increased morbidity and mortality.
Quitting smoking can reverse the process in the early stages. In late stages, quitting will stop further progression of the disease.