Letter: Raising awareness for COPD

Posted: 12/13/2010

From Chicago Tribune:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is now the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a report released Dec. 9 by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Although more than 500,000 Illinoisans are estimated to have COPD, as many as half may not know they have the disease. People who have COPD often do not notice the slow onset of symptoms – including shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing – until they become severe.

For our part, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago and the Illinois COPD Coalition continue to lead efforts to raise awareness for and reduce the impacts of COPD. We do so by funding research, advocating for lung-friendly policies and hosting educational meetings and events for patients and health care providers. We also took steps to assure that the Illinois Department of Public Health collected data on people who have COPD in 2010 so that we can better understand this health threat as it impacts our state.

The simplest ways to change these grim statistics are to raise awareness for COPD and encourage anyone who is experiencing symptoms to seek a diagnosis. As we improve our understanding about who has COPD and how they are impacted, we can conduct better research and find better treatments.

-- Joel Africk, President and CEO, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago; Ravi Kalhan, Chairman, Illinois COPD Coalition