The Latest in Treatment for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

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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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Andrew Schorr:

This is Andrew Schorr, and you are listening to AM570 KVI Patient Power. Today we are going to talk about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. You know it affects a lot of people; many more maybe than even realize it, and it can be quite serious. There are treatments to help people live better, and you are going to hear about it on our program today with a leading expert from Seattle, Dr. Len Hudson and also a patient from Silverdale who will share her experience that I know will be very inspiring. It’s all coming up on AM570 KVI Patient Power. Stay with us.

Hello, thank you for being with us. Andrew Schorr here with Patient Power every week devoted to helping you and your family get smarter about serious help concerns, connect you with leading experts, and help you make really smart decisions for you and your family.

Well we are on tape today. We are not live, but I have two wonderful guests. We are going to talk about something that affects really millions of Americans, costs hundreds of millions of dollars in health costs really, and it is such a serious thing, and it is also increasing among women. We are talking about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD. It is a progressive illness that permanently damages the lungs. It is usually caused by smoking, although some people could be affected in other ways. We will learn about that. It used to be thought of as an old man’s disease, but now it has become a major killer in women as well. Of course that could be the consequence of the smoking boom, sort of the “Virginia Slims” era back in the 1950s and 1960s and 1970s.

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