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Thousands of Missourians Could Be Unknowingly Living with COPD

(November 19, 2018) -

For more information please contact:

James Martinez
[email protected]
(312) 445-2501

More than 11 million Americans live with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including 400,000 in Missouri, but a recent study suggests that the disease is likely even more prevalent. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 11 million people could be unknowingly living with the disease. During November for COPD Awareness Month, the American Lung Association in Missouri is sharing information about COPD and urging people to speak with their doctor about their risk for the disease.

COPD is a chronic, progressive lung disease that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema and is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. For people with COPD, the airways of the lungs become inflamed and thicken over time making it more difficult to breathe. Though there is no cure for COPD, the good news is that it can be found early, when much can be done to treat and help manage the disease.

“Unfortunately, many people don't recognize the symptoms of COPD until later stages of the disease,” said Brett Schuette, executive director for the Lung Association. “Sometimes people think they are short of breath or less able to go about their normal activities because they are ‘just getting older.’ Shortness of breath can be an important symptom of lung disease. Catching COPD early is vital to slowing the progression of this chronic and deadly disease.”

Symptoms of COPD include a chronic cough, shortness of breath while doing everyday activities, frequent respiratory infections, blueness of the lips or fingernail beds, fatigue, producing a lot of mucus, and wheezing. Doctors can diagnose COPD with a simple spirometry test. When caught early, people can live with COPD for many years with the help of medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, regular exercise and social support.

During COPD Awareness Month, the Lung Association is highlighting resources available for people who have COPD:

  • Better Breathers Clubs: People with COPD and their caregivers can receive in-person support from medical providers and others living with the disease at Better Breathers Clubs. Local Better Breathers Clubs can be found at Lung.org/better-breathers.
  • Expert Q&As: If you have any questions about oxygen therapy or managing your COPD you can join our free, online Living with COPD Inspire community and “Ask the Expert,” David Hill, M.D., a pulmonologist and volunteer for the Lung Association, throughout the month of November. 
  • Oxygen Therapy Resources: Through a number of interactive tools on Lung.org/oxygen, the Lung Association offers videos and resources on how to get started with oxygen therapy and care for the equipment. If you or someone you know is living with COPD, keep these tips in mind as you begin or continue with oxygen therapy. 

More information about COPD is available on the Lung Association website at Lung.org/COPD or call the free Lung HelpLine 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).

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About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

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