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Announcements: National Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month — November 2012

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a collective term for respiratory diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, that limit airflow into the lungs, making it hard to breathe. In 2008, chronic lower respiratory diseases (predominantly COPD) became the third leading cause of death in the United States. The rate of hospitalizations varies by geographic region (1,2).

November is National COPD Awareness Month. The observance is supported by the U.S. COPD Coalition to improve awareness and treatment of COPD through the efforts of health professionals, health-care providers, COPD advocacy groups, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's COPD Learn More, Breathe Better campaign.

Tobacco smoke continues to be the leading cause of COPD, and current smokers should be encouraged to quit. Resources to aid in smoking cessation are available at and Other risk factors for COPD include exposure to secondhand smoke, occupational exposure to chemicals or fumes, asthma, air pollution, and respiratory infections.

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


  1. Murphy SL, Xu J, Kochanek KD. Deaths: preliminary data for 2010. Natl Vital Stat Rep 2012;60(4).
  2. Holt JB, Zhang X, Presley-Cantrell L, Croft JB. Geographic disparities in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) hospitalization among Medicare beneficiaries in the United States. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis 2011;6:321–8.

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