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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

President of COPD Foundation Underscores Need for More Awareness

Published August 29, 2011 9:53 AM by Valerie Newitt
When the Centers for Disease Control announced last week yet another study (see news release at bottom) citing Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (which includes both COPD and asthma) as the third leading cause of death in the United States, John W. Walsh, co-founder and president of the COPD Foundation, answered some questions posed by ADVANCE.
  • Do you believe enough attention is being given to COPD?                                           "Awareness of COPD remains a major obstacle. It is unacceptable that more than half of the 24 million Americans affected by COPD remain undiagnosed. The NHLBI's Learn More, Breathe Better Campaign, the first national non-branded public awareness campaign Drive4COPD along with numerous direct-to-consumer drug ads have begun to increase awareness and build the momentum necessary to generate more awareness and appreciation of this epidemic. The CDC has published an Action Plan focused on prevention and awareness and needs support from Congress to fund implementation.," said Walsh.
    "The primary reason that COPD is the only chronic disease and major cause of death on the rise in the U.S. is because it has not received the research and prevention funding that has made such an incredible difference in heart disease, cancer and diabetes," he noted. "The recent increases in research funding from the NHLBI is just the beginning of what will be needed to make progress in the development of new therapies that can slow progression and improve the quality of life for individuals with COPD. The commitment to the COPDGene Study (the study of the genetic epidemiology of COPD) and the early identified results and accelerated enrollment, demonstrate that the research community and patient community are prepared to dedicate themselves to clinical research if funds are made available to conduct the critical research necessary to make progress." 
  • What will this new study will do in terms of enlightening the larger research, medical and patient communities?
    "This study is a wake-up call on the alarming increase in the burden of COPD in the U.S.," said Walsh, "elevating this condition to the third leading cause of death almost two decades before projected. We are hopeful that this will instigate a more aggressive response with support from the NIH and CDC and that Congress will make more funds available for research and awareness. It is critically important that we articulate the immediate need to support research and the development of new therapies to avoid increased costs in later years."
  • What is the next step toward making progress in the fight against COPD?
    "The first priority is to increase the awareness of COPD and mobilize the masses to support increased funding for research and awareness. It is important that we focus on getting the 12-14 million Americans that are symptomatic and not diagnosed, properly tested and get them access to the appropriate therapy and treatment regimen. The importance and impact of early diagnosis cannot be over-emphasized, and the importance to inform, educate and empower individuals with COPD to take responsibility to participate in their care and get involved with the COPD Foundation is paramount.
    "We, at the COPD Foundation, have a saying that ‘COPD is almost always preventable, mostly treatable and someday curable.' That will be realized only when we have adequate funding to support research, detection and awareness."


Study: Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease Is Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

A new study reported from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (CLRD), which includes both COPD and asthma, was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2008.

Key findings from the study by Lara Akinbami, MD, and Xiang Liu, MSc, both with NCHS and the CDC, were detailed in a June NCHA data brief. The study also revealed:

  • The prevalence COPD in the U.S. was stable from 1998 and remained higher in women than men.
  • COPD was more prevalent in older age groups.
  • COPD was more prevalent among Puerto Rican and non-Hispanic white adults than black and Mexican-American adults, and among adults with family income below poverty level than among adults with income at least 200 % of the poverty level.
  • Prevalence of COPD was almost twice as high in the East South Central U.S. Census division as in the Pacific division.
  • From 1999 through 2007, COPD hospitalization rates declined for both men and women, but COPD death rates declined for men only.


posted by Valerie Newitt
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