Morning Mix


Breathe easy with new treatments for Emphysema at Spectrum Health

Posted at 10:53 AM, Oct 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-15 10:53:15-04

For those in West Michigan struggling with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and other pulmonary diseases, the simple act of breathing can be a real struggle. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, with nearly 15 million Americans being diagnosed with the disease.

Spectrum Health recently unveiled groundbreaking treatments for those suffering from lung related diseases, providing services through subspecialized clinics and experts in COPD, lung cancer, and other lung diseases.

Spectrum Health's team of pulmonology and critical care specialists is the largest multidisciplinary group of lung care specialists in Michigan; they take care of thousands of patients a year for breathing issues. People who have COPD have the following symptoms:

  • Chronic cough (Smoker's Cough)
  • Chronic phlegm production
  • Shortness of breath while doing things you used to be able to do
  • Not being able to take a deep breath
  • Wheezing

People are more at risk of COPD if they are:

  • Older than 40-years-old
  • Experiencing symptoms
  • Have a history of smoking
  • Have been exposed to environmental or occupational pollutants

Emphysema is one of the diseases that comprises COPD, which involved gradual damage of lung tissue. While this isn't curable, common treatments for emphysema include inhalers, pulmonary rehabilitation, physical activity training and oxygen treatment.

Spectrum Health is introducing even more treatments to help keep emphysema under control. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the Zephyr® Endobronchial Valve System for treating severe emphysema patients.

The Zephyr Valve is the first minimally-invasive device approved in the United States for treating patients with severe emphysema. Spectrum Health will be evaluating COPD patients that could be candidates to receive said treatment in order to improve quality of life, exercise tolerance and reduce flares  which possibly will impact on life expectancy.

Spectrum Health is currently the only health facility in West Michigan where this treatment is available. Until now, the only alternative to improve outcomes was either surgical lung volume reduction surgery and lung transplantation. Stem cell transplant is being studied but not ready for prime time.

To find out more about Spectrum Health Pulmonary Services, visit or call (616)-267-8244.