|NIH Launches New Campaign Aimed at Increasing
Awareness, Early Diagnosis and Treatment for COPD
Communications Effort Augments NHLBI’s Investment
in COPD Research
WASHINGTON, DC — The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, in partnership with
leading professional societies, health, and advocacy organizations
today launches COPD Learn More Breathe Better, a national campaign
designed to improve awareness among those at greatest risk for
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a growing epidemic,
the fourth leading cause of U.S. deaths, affecting one in four
Americans over the age of 45. More than 12 million people are currently
diagnosed with COPD, and it is estimated that another 12 million
may have it, but remain undiagnosed, despite recognizable symptoms
and treatments that can control symptoms and prolong life.
“Many people with early signs of COPD simply avoid activities
they used to enjoy because they become short of breath more easily.
We want people to know that those symptoms have a name — COPD — that
diagnosis is easy, requiring only a simple breathing test in your
doctor’s office, and that treatment can help,” said Elizabeth G.
Nabel, M.D., NHLBI director.
In COPD, the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs become
partially blocked, making it difficult to breathe. COPD develops
slowly and can worsen over time. COPD is often characterized by
shortness of breath. Other symptoms include constant coughing,
sometimes called “smoker’s cough,” excess sputum production, and
wheezing. COPD is sometimes referred to as emphysema or chronic
People over age 45 with a history of smoking are at risk for COPD.
In addition to smoking, other environmental exposures like pollutants
or secondhand smoke can contribute to the disease. In addition,
as many as 100,000 people in the U.S. may have a genetic deficiency,
called alpha-1 antitrypsin, which raises their risk for COPD.
“Millions of people have heeded the health community’s call to
quit smoking, however they remain at risk for COPD. As health care
providers, we need to do our part to ensure that if they have COPD,
we diagnose it early,” said Rick Kellerman, MD, president of the
American Academy of Family Physicians, a campaign partner.
“Family physicians play an important role in COPD awareness and
diagnosis. We currently are the usual source of care for more than
60 percent of Americans with COPD,” said Kellerman.
A COPD diagnosis is confirmed with spirometry, a simple, non-invasive
breathing test that measures the amount of air a person exhales
and how fast he or she can exhale it. Results of the test can help
the doctor evaluate current lung function.
COPD treatments control symptoms, improve exercise capacity, and
can prolong life. Advances in the treatment of nicotine addiction
have led to greater success in smoking cessation — a critical
intervention in COPD. Other treatments include inhaled bronchodilators,
inhaled corticosteroids, and pulmonary rehabilitation, all of which
have been shown to improve the quality of life of patients with
COPD. Oxygen therapy for those with severe COPD prolongs life.
In decades past, COPD was predominantly a disease of older men.
Now, the disease affects men and women equally, with more women
now dying of COPD each year than men. COPD also costs the U.S.
economy an estimated $32.7 billion per year in healthcare expenditures
and indirect costs of morbidity and mortality.
NHLBI is joined by more than 20 partners in implementing this
new campaign. Among them, The American Academy of Family Physicians,
the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society, the
American College of Chest Physicians, and the U.S. COPD Coalition
will promote the campaign to their constituencies. Kaiser Permanente
has stepped forward to help spread the word about COPD and plans
to distribute campaign information to its members, physicians,
and staff. Through a partnership with the COPD Foundation, the
campaign will tour health fairs, senior expos and other community
venues throughout the country in 2007, offering information and
spirometry screening to those at risk.
The campaign, which will roll out throughout 2007, includes targeted
print and radio public service announcements (PSAs). The PSAs are
supplemented by fact sheets for patients and those at risk, a fact
card for health care professionals, a website, an educational video,
and materials to help community-level organizations further educate
the public about the signs and symptoms of COPD.
The public awareness effort complements a large ongoing NHLBI
investment in COPD research. This month, the NHLBI awarded a total
of $41 million in grants for three new Specialized Centers for
Clinically Orientated Research (SCCOR) in COPD. These centers will
conduct basic and clinical research over the next five years to
better understand the molecular, cellular and genetic determinants
of COPD. That information is critical for developing better methods
of diagnosing and treating COPD. The three SCCOR programs in COPD
are located at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, the
University of Pittsburgh, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Special note for broadcast media: B-roll footage of the spirometry
test, family physician, patients and campaign spokespeople is available.
For more information on COPD and the Learn More Breathe
Better campaign please visit:
www.learnaboutcopd.org or http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Copd/Copd_WhatIs.html
To request an interview about the Learn More Breathe Better
campaign, please contact:
NHLBI press office at (301) 496-4236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To speak to the researchers receiving SCCOR grants, please
Weill Cornell: Jonathan Weil, (212) 821-0560; Washington University:
Gwen Ericson, (314) 286-0141, or University of Pittsburgh: Michele
Baum, (412) 647-3555.
NHLBI COPD Learn More Campaign partners include:
- Alpha-1 Association
- Alpha-1 Foundation
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- American Association for Respiratory Care
- American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
- American College of Chest Physicians
- American College of Physicians
- American Lung Association
- American Thoracic Society
- Asthma/Emphysema Self-Help Group
- COPD Alert
- COPD Foundation
- EFFORTS Global Initiative for COPD (GOLD)
- Kaiser Permanente
- National Emphysema/COPD Association National Jewish Medical
and Research Center
- National Lung Health Education Program
- Pulmonary Education and Research Foundation (PERF)
- SPRY Foundation US COPD Coalition
Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart,
Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports
research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment
of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders.
The Institute also administers national health education campaigns
on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and
other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available
online at: www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health(NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health
and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.