Lung & Pulmonary

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Pulmonary Medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with the causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases affecting the lungs.

Lung & PulmonaryThe most common diseases include COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis and alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency.

About Pulmonary Medicine

Our facility is overseen by physicians who are board-certified in pulmonary and critical care medicine. Our staff includes registered respiratory therapists who are highly skilled to treat patients with lung diseases and provide the highest quality of care. One of only seven hospitals in CT to earn accreditation.

AACVPR (American Association of Cardiovascular Pulmonary Rehabilitation) is the credentialing organization that assures Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programs will maintain the highest quality of care in the treatment of patients with cardiac and pulmonary diseases.

In order to become accredited by the AACVPR, a program must comply with the AACVPR standards for accreditation. These requirements change every three years to keep all programs current. The Hartford Hospital Pulmonary Rehabilitation program has been accredited for more than ten years, which distinguishes it from many others in Connecticut.

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Treatment Options

Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is a condition in which the body does not make enough of a protein (alpha 1 antitrypsin) that protects the lungs and liver from damage. The condition can lead to emphysema and liver disease. This condition can be treated with intravenous therapy.

For more information:
HealthWise: COPD and Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) Deficiency


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. The chronic inflammation leads to recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning. Treatment is usually successful in reversing inflammation and airway narrowing by using inhalers. In a minority of people with asthma, the chronic inflammation permanently restricts airflow. When this airway narrowing cannot be completely reversed with treatment, the person is said to have COPD.

For more information:
HealthWise: Asthma in Teens and Adults


COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a condition in which the airways in the lungs become broken down and narrowed, often due to smoking cigarettes. Sometimes the air sacs are also damaged. As the lungs become more damaged over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe through the narrowed airways (also known as bronchial tubes). When the damage is severe, it may also become difficult to get enough oxygen into the blood and to get rid of excess carbon dioxide. These changes all lead to shortness of breath and other symptoms. Unfortunately, the symptoms of COPD cannot be completely eliminated with treatment and the condition may worsen over time. It is usually treated with inhalers.

The term COPD includes both chronic bronchitis and emphysema:

  • Chronic bronchitis - an irritation in the airways that lead to the lungs, often due to smoking. It causes a cough that brings up mucus (phlegm) every day for 3 months or longer.
  • Emphysema - in a healthy person, the tiny air sacs in the lungs are like balloons. As you breathe in and out, they get bigger and smaller to move air through your lungs. With emphysema, these air sacs are damaged and lose their stretch. Less air gets in and out of the lungs, which makes you feel short of breath.

Hartford Hospital offers a procedure for patients that can greatly improve their breathing and quality of life. Called zephyr valves, they are the first less-invasive option for patients with severe emphysema. These patients previously had few treatment options and often were waiting on lung transplant lists or oxygen-dependent with very poor quality of life. Zephyr valves can improve quality of life and do not rule patients out from other therapies, such as a transplant in the future.

For more information:
YouTube: How It Works: Zephyr Endobronchial Valve
HealthWise: COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited disease caused by an abnormal gene that some children are born with. It causes thick mucus and other fluids to build up and clog different parts of the body, including the lungs, pancreas, liver, and intestine. The thick mucus in the lungs causes people with cystic fibrosis to get frequent lung infections. Over time, these infections damage the lungs. The thick fluids in the pancreas and liver keep the intestine from absorbing certain nutrients from food. This affects a child’s growth and causes abnormal bowel movements. Cystic fibrosis is a life-long condition. As of now, doctors can’t cure the disease, but they can use different treatments to help with symptoms.

For more information:
Hartford Hospital: Cystic Fibrosis Center
HealthWise: Cystic Fibrosis

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world. But, like many other forms of cancer, if it is detected early enough it can be treated so patients enjoy longer and higher-quality lives. Today, we are finding more lung cancers earlier, at more treatable stages. Our lung cancer team adopts medical technologies and therapies available only in leading cancer centers in the U.S.

For more information:
Hartford HealthCare: Lung Cancer
HealthWise: Lung Cancer

Pulmonary Fibrosis

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It damages the air sacs that send oxygen to the blood. This damage causes scars in the lungs. These changes make people with IPF cough and get short of breath. People who get IPF are usually older than 40. It is a very serious illness that cannot be cured and gets worse over time.

For more information:

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary Hypertension is a condition that causes high blood pressure in the blood vessels that carry blood to the lungs. When this happens, the heart has to work harder. This causes people to have trouble breathing and feel very tired. Other symptoms include swelling of the legs and feet, chest pain and fainting. This condition can be treated with prescription medications.

For more information:
Hartford Hospital: Pulmonary Hypertension

Vocal Cord Dysfunction

Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD) occurs when the vocal cords (voice box) do not open correctly. VCD is sometimes confused with asthma because some of the symptoms are similar. With VCD, muscles around the vocal cords tighten, which makes breathing difficult. Unlike asthma, VCD is not an allergic response and it is not treated with inhalers.

For more information:
HealthWise: Asthma and Vocal Cord Problems

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Our Team

We employ physicians highly trained and experienced in their specialties. Learn more about each doctor’s credentials and history.

Meet our team

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Pulmonary Medicine