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Saturday, November 23, 2002


COPD awareness a first step in preventing the disease

Carolyn Gordon, Richmond, KY

November has been proclaimed COPD Awareness Month, and Nov. 20 is worldwide COPD Awareness Day.

COPD Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the fourth-leading killer in the United States, with more than 16 million people diagnosed. Another 16 million, it is estimated, have COPD and have not been diagnosed.

A progressive and irreversible disease, COPD causes the airways and alveoli in the lungs to lose their elasticity and the airway walls to collapse, closing off smaller airways and narrowing the larger ones. Long-term smokers, people exposed to air pollution or secondhand smoke and those with a family history of COPD are most at risk of contracting the disease. Symptoms include chronic coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, increased effort to breathe.

More than 400,000 U.S. citizens die each year from COPD and related lung diseases. citizens.

I am a member of EFFORTS (Emphysema Foundation For Our Right To Survive), a 4-year-old online support group whose goals are to further the awareness of COPD. We have more than 900 members throughout the U.S., with several in Kentucky.
  EFFORTS members traveled to Washington, D.C., tolobby legislators to create a national month of recognition for COPD awareness and its patients. Congressional leaders and medical experts have estimated COPD costs the United States more than $30 billion each year.

Education, funding and research are the keys to COPD prevention, treatment and someday the eradication of this disease, according to EFFORTS.

Another of EFFORTS' goals is to help reduce teen smoking by advocating the use of funds, particularly the tobacco award fund, for cessation programs to educate our youth and others regarding the evils of addiction to tobacco.

Almost 80 percent of those diagnosed with COPD are cigarette smokers or ex-smokers who live in a smoker's environment. Secondhand smoke is very dangerous.

For more information on COPD or EFFORTS, visit

Carolyn Gordon

Letter submitted Saturday, November 23, 2002.



Richmond Register - Richmond, Kentucky