COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is an insidious, progressive disease that causes airflow blockage and breathing related problems, making it hard to breathe. "Insidious" means developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent and "progressive" means the disease gets worse over time.
COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is an umbrella term used to describe a group of progressive lung diseases. The two diseases recognized by the major organizations (NHLBI - National Heart Lung Blood Institute, ATS - American Thoracic Society, ERS - European Respiratory Society, and GOLD - Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease) and included within the term are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Many other organizations include refractory (non-reversible) or chronic asthma, some forms of bronchiectasis and several other diseases which are characterized by progressive obstruction of the airflow into and out of the lungs and increased shortness of breath under this term.
This insidious disease is often not first diagnosed until long after some lung capacity is already lost. It is possible to have early stages of the disease without knowing it. In the United States, it is estimated that 24 million people have COPD, yet one half (approximately 12 million) are still undiagnosed and do not know they have it. Though almost always preventable, and almost always treatable, it is usually not fully reversible.
COPD is NOT a death sentence!
In past years surprising little had actually been learned about COPD. Studies and research were very limited. Now, however, things are improving with some very encouraging studies, clinical trials and research under way for medications and treatment protocols. Research into such areas as genetics, new medications and treatment protocols promise greatly improved diagnostics and treatments for the future. These will greatly improve the quality of life for the patient. A possible cure is no longer considered impossible. Now there also is a very active COPD awareness program underway which started in 2007. This program is designed to educate everyone about this disease, with major emphasis on early diagnosis. For more information, see sidebar links (Latest News) to the NHLBI's: Learn More, Breathe Better® program. There is a very long way to go, however.
The good news is that COPD, though considered a chronic, debilitating and sometimes fatal disease, can be managed, controlled and slowed down. We can all lead good and long lives, with a great deal of quality and joy left even after the diagnosis. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with COPD, general well-being and prognosis can improve greatly with proper treatment and care.
The most important factors contributing to a longer and healthier lifestyle include, but are not limited to:
Here at COPD International, you will not be alone. This site has been organized and staffed by individuals who have been diagnosed with COPD, caregivers and other individuals interested in COPD. Designed to help you learn to control this disease instead of letting it control you, it's primary purpose is to provide a complete resource for patients, caregivers and family, through interactive support and education.
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Last modified: July 22, 2014
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