American Lung Association Checklist Helps Identify Signs and Symptoms of COPD and Promotes Doctor/Patient Communication

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 4, 2009)

The American Lung Association, in partnership with AstraZeneca, has developed a toolkit to help people accurately report their symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to their health care provider and develop a COPD action plan with their physician's guidance. This toolkit can be accessed online.

As part of the American Lung Association's commitment to improving lung health, the organization convened a COPD advisory panel, comprised of internationally recognized experts in COPD, and developed this toolkit to help people monitor and manage their disease.[1]

The toolkit includes a COPD Report Card and a COPD Action Plan designed to help facilitate communication between patients with this disease and their physicians, so they can better understand their disease, recognize the signs and symptoms of their COPD worsening, and know the appropriate steps to take. 

"While there is no cure for COPD, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of this serious disease," said Norman H. Edelman, MD, American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer. "When found early, there is much that can be done to treat and help manage the disease.  Newer treatments can improve and prevent COPD symptoms while also enhancing the patient's quality of life. We hope by using these tools and reporting to their physicians, patients can avoid flare-ups, possible hospitalizations and further serious damage to their lungs."    

"It is our intention that the COPD Report Card and the COPD Action Plan will improve the quality and efficiency of care for patients with COPD," said Robert Wise, M.D., Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center.  "We want this to foster the physician-patient partnership that is essential to improving the health of patients with this disease."

COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a lung disease characterized by an obstruction to airflow that interferes with normal breathing that over time makes it very difficult to breathe.  It is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. More than 12 million people are known to have COPD, and up to 24 million Americans may have the disease, because it often goes undiagnosed. COPD is not curable; however it is preventable, and can be treated and managed on a daily basis. 

Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, causing approximately 80 to 90 percent of all COPD deaths.  Exposure to second-hand smoke, and occupational dusts and chemicals are also causes of this disease, as is a rare genetic mutation called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency.

The Lung Association is committed to improving the lives of those living with COPD through education and promoting early detection. People living with COPD can find face-to-face support in their own community through the American Lung Association's Better Breathers Clubs. These support groups meet regularly to provide tips and techniques to help patients better manage their disease. A listing of club locations can be accessed here. The American Lung Association is also partnering with the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute on its "COPD Learn More Breathe Better®" campaign to increase awareness and understanding of the disease.   The campaign web site can be accessed here.

People with lung disease like COPD are at particular risk to develop serious symptoms from both seasonal flu and H1N1 flu. As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Lung Association encourages people with lung disease to get vaccinated for both the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu.  Check with your health care provider to see if you are eligible. 

[1] A complete listing of the COPD advisory board members is provided below.

Members of the American Lung Association COPD advisory panel:

  • Robert A. Wise, MD (Chair)
  • Professor of Medicine
  • Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Bartolome Celli, MD
  • Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston
  • Chief, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Boston
  • Ubaldo Martin, MD
  • Associate Director, Clinical Research
  • AstraZeneca LP
  • Fernando J. Martinez, MD, MS
  • Associate Chief, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
  • University of Michigan Health System
  • Norman Edelman, MD
  • Professor of Preventive and Internal Medicine, Stony Brook University Medical Center
  • Chief Medical Officer, American Lung Association  


About the American Lung Association: Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit