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World COPD Day Raises Disease's Profile

Organizations around the world involved in respiratory therapy and treatment, disease prevention, and lung health are participating today in World COPD Day, which is part of this month's COPD Awareness activities. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the world's fourth-leading cause of death, affecting about 600 million people in all and at least 10 percent of all adults over age 40, the American Thoracic Society and other groups say. About 10 million Americans have diagnosed COPD, but the true number may be as high as 24 million.

The theme for today's events is "Breathless not Helpless." The American Association for Respiratory Care urges members to host spirometry screenings, offer smoking cessation clinics for COPD patients, and present lectures for newly diagnosed COPD patients to help them understand the disease.

World COPD Day is organized by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease.

A survey released Nov. 13 by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute showed awareness of COPD is growing in the United States, but most people do not fully understand the disease. While 64 percent of survey respondents had heard of COPD (compared with 49 percent in a 2004 survey), only half recognized it as a leading cause of death, and only 44 percent realized it is treatable.

AARC's consumer web site, YourLungHealth.org, is another source for information developed by respiratory therapists for chronic lung disease patients.

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