Friday, November 15, 2013

November is COPD Awareness Month

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Lung Association - surpassed only by heart disease and cancer, and COPD is not decreasing as quickly as either of those conditions. Clearly, this is a disease of which we all should be more aware. 

COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is a progressive lung disorder that makes it difficult to breathe and can eventually lead to death. Almost 13 million American adults have been diagnosed with COPD, and the American Lung Association estimates that 12 million more people may be suffering with the disease who have not been diagnosed. COPD is preventable, however, and although it cannot be cured, it can be treated through medications, exercise and other options that may help improve the patient’s quality of life - if the disease is diagnosed early enough.

Symptoms of COPD include:
    ·        Persistent cough
    ·        Shortness of breath during everyday activities
    ·        Producing a large amount of sputum
    ·        Wheezing
    ·        Feeling as if one can’t breathe or take a deep breath

The primary cause of COPD is smoking. The most important preventative measure against COPD is not to smoke, or to stop, if you are a smoker. The number of deaths among women from COPD has more than quadrupled since 1980, as smoking increased among women. Since 2000, more women than men have died from the disease. Women are also at greater risk from other causes of the disease, such as secondhand smoke, harmful workplace exposures and outdoor air pollution.

Living with chronic lung disease can be increasingly debilitating, impacting every aspect of life. If you or a family member are at risk, please see your physician and request a screening for COPD, including a spirometer breathing test. 

On Monday, November 18, Holy Name pulmonologist Brian Benoff, MD, will present an “Update on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” through Holy Name’s Center for Healthy Living.  The program will include information about prevention and early detection as well as recommendations to help people with COPD to live more comfortably and with minimal complicating conditions. For additional information, or to register for the program, please call HNMC's Ask-a-Nurse at 1-877-HOLY-NAME (1-877-465-9626).