GRUNDY CENTER- Awareness of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is growing, but few Americans have a thorough understanding of the disease, according to a national survey recently released. The new data show that 64 percent of survey respondents had heard of COPD, compared with 49 percent in a 2004 survey. Among those who reported hearing of COPD, only half recognized the disease as a leading cause of death, and just 44 percent understood it to be treatable. Grundy County Memorial Hospital (GCMH) Cardiac Rehabilitation Services is committed to assist in education about this disease.
The fourth leading cause of death in the United States, COPD is a serious lung disease affecting an estimated 24 million Americans. More than 12 million people are currently diagnosed with COPD and another 12 million may have COPD but remain undiagnosed despite recognizable symptoms. COPD typically affects people over 45, especially those who smoke or have smoked, and those with risk factors associated with genetics or environmental exposures. Symptoms include chronic cough, sometimes called "smoker's cough," shortness of breath, wheezing, not being able to take a deep breath, and excess sputum production.
The only way to slow the course of the disease is to quit smoking. Smoking is attributed to as many as nine out of ten COPD-related deaths, yet most surveyed respondents (66 percent) did not recognize smoking as a risk factor. This was especially true among the current smokers surveyed. Just 22 percent recognized that their smoking puts them at greater risk for COPD. GCMH will offer Smoking Cessation Classes in 2010. Please call 319-824-5421 for more information.
COPD can be diagnosed with a simple breathing test called spirometry. Those at risk for COPD as well as those experiencing symptoms should talk to their doctor about the test. Spirometry is not invasive and can be conducted in the doctor's office. It involves breathing out as hard and fast as possible into a tube connected to a machine that measures lung function. GCMH offers spirometry testing, please speak with your primary care provider about a referral.
If you or a loved one could benefit from more education on COPD or smoking cessation please contact GCMH Cardiac Rehab Coordinator Brandy Tripp, RN, BSN at 319-824-5421.