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Lung Disease Awareness is Focus of Global Effort Nov. 19

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Try breathing out of a straw and you can imagine what it is like to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and, unlike cancer and heart disease, it is on the rise. November 19 has been established as World COPD Day 2008 and the theme this year is Breathless not Helpless.

The biggest risk factor in developing COPD is smoking or a history of smoking. Other causes are exposure to particulate matter like air pollution, occupational dust and chemicals, and emissions from wood stoves. There is also a relationship between pulmonary disease and childhood respiratory infections and heredity.

 “We urgently recommend anyone with symptoms to contact their doctor or the American Lung Association and learn about what can be done to treat this illness,” said University of Rochester Medical Center respiratory therapist Deborah J. Hughes, M.S.,R.R.T., AE-C. “Testing for COPD is a quick and easy breathing procedure called spirometry and can be done in minutes. We want people to understand how important it is to detect it early to prevent the disease from getting worse. COPD affects everything in your life and has a negative impact when it’s not treated.”

 URMC and the American Lung Association have joined together to form the Better Breathers Club, a monthly educational support group for patients and their families. Meetings include guest speakers, group discussions and a question-and-answer period. Meetings are held on the third Friday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. at the American Lung Association Office, 1595 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester. There is no charge to attend.

 For more information on lung disease or World COPD Day, contact the Department of Respiratory Care at Strong Memorial Hospital at (585) 275-2421, or visit the American Lung Association’s website at

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