November is COPD Awareness Month
More than 30 million Americans suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Breathlessness, frequent coughing, wheezing – these are just some of the symptoms more than 30-million Americans suffer every day because of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, more commonly known as “COPD.”
COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, non-reversible asthma and some forms of bronchiectasis. It’s a disease which Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Pulmonologist Dr. Ala Mortazavi of Virginia Pulmonary Associates, sees every day. He says it’s much more common than people realize, “The common misconception about COPD is that it’s rare. The sad fact is COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease, cancer and stroke.”
COPD affects the lungs, causing a reduced airflow, which makes it hard to breathe. The disease is most common in people 40 years of age and older who have a history of smoking. According to the COPD Foundation nearly 90% of those diagnosed with the disease have smoked. But, Dr. Mortazavi says COPD can also occur in those with a genetic predisposition and those who have had long-term contact with harmful pollutants.
“The damage done to the lungs by COPD cannot be reversed. However, treatment can slow or halt the progression of the disease and help the patient feel better,” explains Dr. Mortazavi.
Treatments like oxygen therapy, increased exercise and medications can benefit patients and help them manage their condition. But, experts say stopping smoking has been the only thing proven to slow the progression of COPD. If you or someone you love is living with COPD, call 1-800-SENTARA to work with one of our specialty trained, certified pulmonologist to help determine the best care for you.