Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, also known as COPD, is a progressive lung disease comprised of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In a minority of cases COPD can be caused by exposure to certain irritants, but the overwhelmingly common cause of the disease, which now affects as many as 24 million Americans, is smoking. On this episode of Patient Power, world-reknowned pulmonologist Dr. Leonard Hudson, of the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center, joins host Andrew Schorr to discuss the current state of the disease, as well as important advances in the diagnosis and treatment of COPD.
According to Dr. Hudson, COPD may not yet be cureable, but it is certainly treatable. Learn how a simple pulmonary function test, spirometry, can help to diagnosis the disease in its earliest stages allowing doctors to slow the progression. Andrew and Dr. Hudson discuss when surgery may be appropriate, as well as the role that bronchodilators, inhaled steriods and antibiotics can play in managing the disease. Also highlighted for listeners is the National Lung Health Education Program, which is working to educate the public about COPD. Dr. Hudson helps listeners to understand what is actually happening in the lungs of someone with emphysema or chronic bronchitis and the effect this has on their breathing.
Sharon O’Hara, a COPD patient and advocate from the American Lung Association, joins the discussion to reinforce the importance of educating the public and other patients about the disease. She contends the best advice to other patients is to address their fears and continue to push themselves physically. Dr. Hudson goes on to explain why exercise is so imporant for COPD patients. Many patients unconsciously adapt to their decreased lung function and therefore do not notice the symptoms until the disease has progressed.
Early detection and intervention are key—learn about the possible screening devices and procedures that at-risk patients should seek out. Not to be missed, this Patient Power program offers patients tremendous hope that COPD can be managed, and patients can continue to lead high-quality, full lives.
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