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Announcements: National Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month --- November 2011

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) characterizes a group of diseases that cause airflow obstruction, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In 2008, chronic lower respiratory diseases (primarily COPD) became the third leading cause of death in the United States (1).

November is National COPD Awareness Month. Sponsored by the U.S. COPD Coalition, the observance is an opportunity for health professionals, health-care providers, and COPD patient groups to collaborate and improve awareness and treatment of COPD by participating in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's COPD Learn More, Breathe Better campaign. In addition, CDC and its partners recently have released a set of goals to define the unique role and contributions of public health in the prevention and control of COPD (2).

The most significant cause of COPD is tobacco smoke. Smokers should be encouraged to quit, and persons should be protected from exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoking cessation information is available at and Exposures to certain chemicals, fumes or vapors, or air pollution also are risks factors, as are asthma and respiratory infections.

Although no cure for COPD is available, it is treatable, and early detection is essential. Persons at risk for COPD who experience chronic cough, shortness of breath, and sputum production are encouraged to talk to their health-care provider and request a simple breathing test called spirometry to assess lung function. Additional information is available from CDC (, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (, and the U.S. COPD Coalition (


  1. Miniño AM, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD. Deaths: preliminary data for 2008. Natl Vital Stat Rep 2010;59(2).
  2. CDC. Public health strategic framework for COPD prevention. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2011. Available at Accessed October 25, 2011.

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