Breathing in America Aims to Increase Public Awareness of Lung Disease

August 08, 2011

Lung disease is the third-leading killer in the United States and around the world, yet many lung diseases are under-recognized and research is grossly underfunded. However, a new book, Breathing in America: Diseases, Progress, and Hope, produced by the American Thoracic Society, shines a strong light on lung disease and research, exploring the nature and causes of pulmonary, critical care and sleep disorders, their prevalence and burden, the benefits research has brought and the research challenges that remain.

Breathing in America, which was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, is definitive resource for healthcare workers who need to have a succinct source of information about these diseases, as well as for patients and their loved ones, who will find in-depth information as well as well-documented sources for further reading.

“It is a compilation of basic facts, including epidemiologic data, about lung disease in America and it describes the role that research must play in advancing its prevention, treatment and management,” said ATS president Dean Schraufnagel, MD, who edited the book.

In addition to sections on pathology, prevalence and the current state of research, each chapter includes a patient perspective that describes the realities of living with pulmonary disease.  IT includes well-known diseases such as asthma and COPD as well as lesser-known diseases such as sarcoidosis and pulmonary hypertension. There is also a section on rare lung diseases, which covers diseases such as lymphangioleiomyomatosis and Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome.

The book was envisioned as a tool to educate healthcare providers, policymakers and the public about the significant burden of respiratory diseases, and the importance of promoting research, education and training.  

“Breathing in America creates a single go-to source with a clear and concise summary of the lungs and what they do, the burden of lung diseases on this country and illustrative advances of what can be done for those with respiratory diseases,” said James Kiley, PhD, director of the NHLBI’s Division of Lung Diseases. “It explains what more research would do to enable early diagnosis, more targeted interventions and prevention of disease.”

Calling it an “important step” toward a broader campaign to inform our political, civic and business leaders, at-risk patients and the general public that lung disease represents a significant threat to the nation’s health, former ATS president Jo Rae Wright, PhD, noted that a central theme of the book is that “our collective response has fallen short, but that there is an answer—research—that will help save many lives and greatly improve the quality of many others.”

Click here to download the free online version.