November is COPD Awareness Month.
Balintfy: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a very severe respiratory condition where the lungs become partially blocked making it very difficult to breathe over time.
Kiley: It's harder and harder to breathe.
Balintfy: Dr. James Kiley at the NIHís National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says it is also known as a progressive airway obstruction.
Kiley: Sometimes COPD is referred to in other ways such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
Balintfy: He adds that COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Kiley: And in 2009, it was estimated that about 132,000 people over the age of 45 died because of COPD and of that number, about 69,000 of those deaths were women as reported by the Centers of Disease Control. So you can see that COPD is a very, very serious public health problem that requires a lot of attention.
Balintfy: Estimates also indicate that about 12 million people have COPD.
Kiley: Maybe whatís even more telling than that number if that doesnít impress you enough is that there may be as many as 12 million more people in this country that have COPD and donít even know it.
Balintfy: Symptoms of COPD can include coughing and wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms. Most people who have COPD are at least 40 years old when symptoms begin. The main risk factor for COPD is smoking. Dr. Kiley strongly recommends quitting.
Kiley: Itís in fact the best thing that you can do for your overall health. So we can urge people who continue to smoke or active smokers to quit. It is really critical that they take that message very seriously and all should talk with your doctor, your healthcare provider because there are enormous numbers of tools and approaches and resources available to help people quit.
Balintfy: Dr. Kiley also emphasizes that COPD is a treatable disease.
Kiley: We know that early detection can lead to effective treatments so it's important to learn more and take action and ask about having a lung function test and ask your provider to really assess your lungs as fully as possible.
Balintfy: For more information about COPD, visit the website copd.nhlbi.nih.gov. And to hear more from Dr. Kiley about COPD, listen to episode 171 of the NIH Research Radio podcast. For NIH Radio, this is Joe Balintfy – NIH... Turning Discovery Into Health®.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Joe Balintfy
Sound Bite: Dr. James Kiley
Topic: COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung, lung disease, breath, breathing, airway, emphysema, bronchitis