New Alpha-1 Guidelines for Testing and Treatment

Alpha-1 Guidelines Updated from 2003

The new Alpha-1 guidelines for testing and managing Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency are published in the July issue of the Chronic Obstructive Lung Diseases: Journal of the COPD Foundation. The guidelines are intended to update and simplify a 2003 document from the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the European Respiratory Society on the diagnosis and management of Alpha-1.

Alpha-1 is an abbreviation for a genetic, or hereditary, form of emphysema. It is called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. The Alpha-1 protein is made in the liver, released into the blood, and travels to the lung. It protects the lung from damage due to cigarette smoking. If there is a low level in the lung and a someone smokes cigarettes, emphysema can develop at an early age or may develop at a later age in someone who has not smoked that much.

author of new Alpha-1 Guidelines

Robert Sandhaus, M.D., Ph.D.

“We believe the Summary of Recommendations of these guidelines is the most efficient tool that busy physicians have ever had to follow best practices in detection, diagnosis and treatment of Alpha-1 in adults,” said Robert Sandhaus, MD, PhD, who co-chaired the Guidelines committee. “The Alpha-1 community has long needed more accessible guidelines based on the latest scientific literature.”


Major Recommendation for Testing

“All individuals with COPD regardless of age or ethnicity should be tested for Alpha-1 deficiency.”

Augmentation Therapy 

Augmentation therapy builds up the Alpha-1 protein in the lung for better protection to prevent any additional damage. The Alpha-1 protein is obtained from healthy adults, concentrated, and then given through a plastic tube placed in an arm vein once a week to prevent emphysema from worsening.

My Comment: If you have COPD, make sure that you are tested for Alpha-1 deficiency.  Your health care provider can order a simple blood test to find out about this diagnosis.