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Pulmonary emphysema. Coloured chest X-ray showing emphysema of the lungs (dark areas at left and right). In emphysema, the alveoli (tiny air sacs) of the lungs become damaged, and they enlarge as their walls become thinner and break. This reduces gas exchange, causing shortness of breath and sometimes heart or respiratory failure. Emphysema is usually due to cigarette smoking and is incurable.
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