Caroline MacGregor November 16, 2012 | WGVU
COPD is a serious lung disease that over time makes it difficult to breathe. Sometimes referred to as emphysema
or chronic bronchitis, it affects about
24 million people and contributes to nearly 5,000 deaths annually.
Nationally, the disease has surpassed stroke as the third leading cause of death in the
frequent shortness of breath, a chronic cough, wheezing or excessive phlegm
production which come on slowly and worsen over time, leading many to blame it
on aging, or being out of shape. When patients symptoms are severe enough to
compromise daily activities, lung function can be seriously compromised.
James Kiley, Director of the Division of Lung Diseases at the National
Institutes of Health, says it’s not just a smokers disease and a large number
of people go undiagnosed.
“COPD can occur in people who have had long term exposure to things that irritate the lungs: chemicals, dust, fumes in the workplace, heavy or long term exposure to second hand smoke or other air pollutants can also contribute to COPD. There's a genetic version of COPD called alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, where genes which are mutated lead to the development of the disease totally independent of smoking."
says in the developing world indoor air exposure can lead to the disease
particularly in women and children who have never smoked. COPD continues to
show increased mortality rates each year. While there is no cure, Dr Riley says we have come a long way
in terms of treatment and improving quality of life for those with the disease.
He advises anyone with symptoms to talk
with their doctor.
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