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November is national COPD awareness month



November 06, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health 

In recognition of national COPD awareness month, the California Medical Association (CMA) Foundation is encouraging physicians to talk to their patients about simple measures they can take to improve their lung function.

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a serious lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. Also known as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, it recently surpassed stroke as the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 12 million people are diagnosed with COPD and an additional 12 million are likely to have the disease and don't even know it. While one in five adults over the age of 45 have COPD, many dismiss their symptoms as a normal consequence of aging or being out of shape.

The CMA Foundation AWARE (Alliance Working for Antibiotic Resistance Education) project has posted on its website a number of patient education materials that physicians can use to help patients lower their risk of the disease and understand that with proper diagnosis and treatment they can breathe easier and enjoy an improved quality of life. The materials can be downloaded at www.aware.md, under "Patient and Consumer Education Materials."

COPD occurs most frequently in current and former smokers age 40 and up. However, as many as one out of six people with COPD have never smoked.

COPD symptoms – such as shortness of breath, chronic coughing or wheezing, producing excess sputum, or feeling unable to take a deep breath – come on slowly and worsen over time. COPD can occur through long-term exposure to substances that can irritate the lungs, such as certain chemicals, secondhand smoke, and dust or fumes in the workplace. COPD can also occur in people with a genetic condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

For more information about National COPD Awareness Month activities taking place across the country visit the COPD "Learn More Breathe Better" campaign at http://copd.nhlbi.nih.gov.

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