NIH Releases First COPD National Action Plan

Since 1969, the death rate for COPD has doubled, and it is the fourth main cause of disability in the United States, with costs projected to increase to $49 billion by 2020. Most COPD cases are preventable because eight in 10 COPD deaths are caused by smoking.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, an NIH agency, released the first-ever COPD National Action Plan on May 22 at the American Thoracic Society International Conference held in Washington, D.C. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, affecting 16 million people, although millions more likely do not know they have it, according to the agency, which reports COPD costs Americans more than $32 billion per year.

The plan was developed with the COPD community nationwide and at the request of Congress to provide a coordinated approach to ending the COPD scourge for doctors, educators, researchers, federal agencies, patients, advocates, and the biomedical industry. "This plan represents a new understanding of what it takes, at every level, to minimize the burden of COPD," said Dr. Gary H. Gibbons, MD, director of NHLBI. "Through thoughtful collaboration with federal agencies, patients, advocates, and researchers, we will help the millions who continue to endure this debilitating disease."

The report points out that those with COPD struggle daily to live normal lives. Since 1969, the death rate for COPD has doubled, and it is the fourth main cause of disability in the United States, with costs projected to increase to $49 billion by 2020.

Most COPD cases are preventable because eight in 10 COPD deaths are caused by smoking.

The report includes a chart showing incidence of COPD by state in 2015. There are significant differences; they range from 11.9 percent in West Virginia to 3.8 percent in Utah.

"A coordinated national approach is now needed to deal with the critical issues around this chronic disease," it says. "Along with the steady efforts of researchers seeking a cure and clinicians adopting new tools and therapies for patients, the COPD National Action Plan has the potential to change the trajectory of COPD. Developed over the course of a year with input from the COPD community at large, the Action Plan provides a comprehensive, unified framework for action by those affected by the disease and those who care about reducing its burden."

It sets these five goals:

  • Empower patients, their families, and caregivers to recognize and reduce burden of COPD
  • Equip health care professionals to provide comprehensive care to people with COPD
  • Collect, analyze, report, and disseminate COPD data
  • Increase and sustain COPD research
  • Turn COPD recommendations into research and public health care actions

"The enthusiasm of members from the COPD community in sharing its insights has been invaluable throughout this process," said James P. Kiley, Ph.D., director of NHLBI's Division of Lung Diseases. "The different perspectives brought by those who live these issues every day contributed to making this a clear, coordinated way forward for all stakeholders. We look forward to working together to improve the lives of those living with COPD."

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