|Statement from Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., Director,
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes
of Health, on COPD Awareness Month, November 2007
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a serious lung disease,
is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. An American
dies every 4.5 minutes from COPD. While there are 12 million people
with a diagnosis of COPD, there may be another 12 million who have
it and don't know it.
Despite these alarming numbers, relatively few Americans have
heard of COPD. As a result, those at risk are not aware of the
symptoms and health care professionals are not always on the lookout
for the early symptoms and warning signs.
COPD occurs when the tubes that allow the air to get in and out
of the lungs are partially blocked, making it difficult to breathe
and leaving patients feeling short of breath. Anyone over the age
of 40 who smokes or has smoked is at risk for developing COPD.
People who have had long-term exposure to things that irritate
the lungs, such as chemicals, dust, or fumes in the workplace;
secondhand smoke or other pollutants; and people with certain genetic
conditions are also at risk.
Diagnosing COPD involves a simple breathing test called spirometry
that can be done in the doctor's office. Newer treatments for COPD
are helping people live longer, more active lives.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, in collaboration
with more than 20 partners, has developed an education campaign,
COPD Learn More Breathe Better, in order to promote greater awareness
of COPD among those at risk for COPD, patients, and health care
providers. We hope that our efforts and those of our partners will
serve as a wake-up call for America to help those with the disease
and at risk for the disease take steps to improve their own health.
For information, visit www.LearnAboutCOPD.org.
Dr. Nabel is Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
Media inquiries can be directed to the NHLBI Communications Office
at (301) 496-4236, Nhlbi_news@nhlbi.nih.gov.
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 heart and lung disease, and other topics. NHLBI press releases
and other materials are available online at www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
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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
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