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Smoking Cessation Essential for Preventing COPD
COPD fourth leading cause of death in Kentucky
Louisville, Ky. (November 22, 2017) – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is a term used to describe a group of progressive lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Each year, COPD affects 16 million Americans, while millions more do not realize they have it. COPD can lead to long-term disability and dramatically affect a person’s quality of life, which is why Jewish Hospital and Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital, both part of KentuckyOne Health, are encouraging smoking cessation, to help reduce the risk for developing the disease.
COPD is a term that refers to two lung diseases: chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which frequently exist together, restrict airflow and cause trouble breathing. Uncontrolled asthma over a person’s lifetime can also result in COPD. Symptoms of COPD include chronic cough – known as a smoker’s cough – chronic phlegm production, shortness of breath doing normal activities, wheezing, or not being able to take a deep breath.
Smoking cigarettes is the main cause of COPD, and in Kentucky, one of the leading tobacco producing states, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Environmental factors – like particle dust, secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes – and genetic predisposition can also lead to COPD. More than 11 percent of people living in Kentucky have COPD, the second highest percentage in the United States, according to the American Lung Association.
While COPD is one of the most common respiratory conditions in adults, the disease is also preventable and treatable. This is why it’s important to take action to help prevent the disease, so it doesn’t lead to additional health problems.
“COPD is often not found until the disease is very advanced, as many people do not know the early warning signs,” said Josephine Mei, MD, Pulmonologist and Medical Director for Respiratory and Sleep Services, Jewish Hospital. “While there isn’t a cure for COPD, treatment is available to manage symptoms of the disease. It’s important that all Kentuckians educate themselves about this disease, to help improve their quality of life.”
To help detect COPD, a physician will use a test called spirometry, or pulmonary function test, which can detect the disease before symptoms become severe. This non-invasive breathing test measures the amount of air a person can blow out of the lungs and how fast he or she can blow it out. This test will help the physician determine if a person has COPD and the severity of the disease, as well as how to treat the disease.
“The most common treatment is the use of bronchodilators, or a medication that helps to relax the muscles around your airways, making it easier to breathe,” said Dr. Mei. “Additional treatment options include inhalers, pulmonary rehabilitation, physical activity training and oxygen treatment.”
Dr. Mei is also serves as the pulmonary director of Frazier Rehab Institute’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program, as well as a clinical resource center physician for alpha-1 antrypsin deficiency, which is a cause for COPD.
The most important thing a person can do to reduce the risk of developing COPD or to limit debilitating symptoms is to not smoke. For more information on the importance of smoking cessation, visit www.kentuckyonehealth.org/heartcare-cardiology-associates-louisville-your-health-wellness-and-smoking-cessation.
If you are suffering from symptoms of COPD, contact your physician to be tested for the disease. If you do not have a physician, call 502.589.3027 for a provider near you. Free telephone support is available for people who want to quit smoking by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
About KentuckyOne Health
KentuckyOne Health, one of the largest and most comprehensive health systems in the Commonwealth, includes hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies in Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is dedicated to bringing wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved.