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A review supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) found that people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who accumulate extra mucus in their airways, known as mucus plugs, have a higher risk of premature death. The study analyzed data from 4,363 adults with COPD, aged 45-80, who were smokers. It revealed that 59% had no detectable mucus plugs, 22% had plugs in at least one airway, and 19% had plugs in at least three airways. Over the course of nearly 10 years, 41% of participants died, with higher mortality rates observed among those with mucus plugs. After adjusting for other factors, researchers concluded that the presence of mucus plugs in the airways increases the likelihood of premature death. These findings could potentially guide the development of targeted treatments aimed at breaking up and clearing mucus in individuals with COPD.


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