Nation’s Fourth Leading Killer is a Lung Disease You May Have Never Heard About
....Ever heard of COPD? It’s the fourth leading killer and second leading cause of disability in the U.S. Unfortunately, millions of people with COPD may not know they have it or understand how serious it can get because they don’t know anything about the chronic lung disease.
...More than 12 million people in this country have been diagnosed with COPD and an additional 12 million likely have the disease and don’t know it, according to the NHLBI.
....“Respiratory Rallies that are held right in the community are essential if we are going to make a difference,” said Gwendolyn Young, chair of the American Lung Association of California, whose brother died nearly 10 years ago from complications of COPD. She added that although African Americans are less likely to die from COPD, the high smoking rates compound the effects of this chronic illness.
....Other risk factors for COPD include air pollution, secondhand smoke and occupational hazards like chemicals, dust and fumes in the workplace. Communities of color are more likely to live near industrial sources of air pollution, according to State of Lung Disease in Diverse Communities 2007 .
....Symptoms of COPD include chronic cough or “smokers cough,” increased mucus, frequent clearing of the throat, and shortness of breath. Because COPD progresses slowly, people often ignore the symptoms and don’t seek medical treatment until the lungs are very damaged.
....Early detection of COPD is critical because it is possible to slow its progress through lifestyle changes, exercise and medication.
....Programs like the American Lung Association’s Respiratory Rallies for people with COPD can help those with the disease learn to better manage it. The daylong conferences are for people with COPD and their caregivers and feature medical speakers, motivational presenters, free educational materials and breakout sessions about a variety of topics. The rallies are planned and implemented by a team of health professionals, including physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists.
....“Educating people on chronic lung disease makes a huge difference in quality of life,” Dr. Kupperman said.
.....For more information about the Respiratory Rallies, visit www.respiratoryrally.org or call 800.LUNG.USA, which also connects you to the American Lung Association’s free HelpLine, where you can get all your lung disease questions answered by a registered nurse or respiratory therapist. To learn more about COPD, visit www.LearnAboutCOPD.org.
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