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Notice to Readers: World COPD Day --- November 14, 2007

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) describes a group of slowly progressive diseases (e.g., chronic bronchitis or emphysema) characterized by airflow obstruction that interferes with normal breathing (1). COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a major cause of morbidity and disability, resulting in substantial costs to persons and society. Smoking is the most common cause of COPD, accounting for approximately 80% of COPD cases (2). Other causes include exposure to occupational hazards, air pollution, and secondhand smoke. To increase global awareness of COPD and the importance of early diagnosis, the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (http://www.goldcopd.com) is sponsoring World COPD Day on November 14, 2007.

Early diagnosis of COPD is important for better outcomes. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends that persons at risk for COPD who have cough, sputum production, or shortness of breath should be tested for the disease using spirometry, a simple breathing test for assessing lung function (3). Persons who smoke or those at risk for COPD should stop smoking and avoid areas with tobacco smoke. Resources to help smokers quit are available at http://www.smokefree.gov, at the National Cancer Institute website (http://www.cancer.gov), or by telephone (800-QUIT-NOW [800-784-8669]).

NHLBI and the COPD Foundation also have initiated the Learn More, Breathe Better Campaign to heighten awareness of COPD as a serious lung disease, increase the understanding that COPD is treatable, and encourage those at risk for COPD to talk with their physicians and get a breathing test. A tool kit has been developed to help partner organizations share campaign information with their communities (2).

References

  1. Rennard SI. COPD: overview of definitions, epidemiology, and factors influencing its development. Chest 1998;113(Suppl 4):235S--41S.
  2. US Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking: chronic obstructive lung disease. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1984. USDHHS publication no. 84-50205.
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. COPD Learn More, Breathe Better Campaign. Bethesda, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Available at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/copd/lmbb-campaign/index.htm.



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