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Creating Financial Wellness While Living with Chronic Illness

Posted on May 28, 2024   |   

This article was written by Jamie Jarrard, BA.

Financial wellness can be a challenge for anyone, but may be especially hard if you are also managing a chronic illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This summer we will be exploring ways to help manage your finances and plan for the future while navigating life with COPD. Some of these tips may be difficult to apply while living on a fixed income, and we will address more options in the future to support all individuals with chronic lung disease.

According to the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, average annual healthcare costs when living with a chronic condition can easily climb above $6,000 per person1. Managing COPD can cost over $10,000 per individual each year2.

Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to help soften the burden and prepare for future expenses.

1) Create a plan to become debt free.

Just as each individual is unique, each debt load is unique and requires personalized attention. However, the general principles of becoming debt-free can help you create a plan:

  • Create a list of all debts owed, including total amounts, minimum monthly payments, and interest rates.
  • As you can, begin making extra payments above the minimum amount on the debt that carries the highest interest rate, while continuing to pay the minimum monthly payment on all others.
  • As each debt is paid off, use the money that was going towards the highest interest rate debt and apply it to the one next down on your list.
  • Repeat this process until all of your debts are paid off.

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Categories: Education, Resources and Studies Tips for Healthy Living

Health Policy And You

Posted on May 28, 2024   |   

This article was written by Michael W. Hess, MPH, RRT, RPFT.

"Health policy" is a phrase that can end conversations as soon as they start. Most of us do not even like to think about things like policies or lobbying or regulations, let alone chat about them. All we really need to know about how a bill becomes law we learned from Schoolhouse Rock, right? However, it is very important to be familiar with what is happening in health policy. These rules can have big impacts on your health and financial well-being. Staying informed helps prevent you from surprises down the road. Today's blog is meant to update some of the biggest changes in health policy and to help show how YOU can get involved to support positive policies!

The Inflation Reduction Act

We covered many of the highlights of this law in a blog post last October, but we are now starting to see some more of its effects. For example, drug companies are now allowed only to raise prices in line with inflation. The prices they charge Medicare cannot be raised faster than that or they have to pay a penalty. Since many people with COPD also have other medical concerns, this can really help your pocketbook. Copays for vaccines have been eliminated. The infamous “donut hole” in medication coverage has also finally started to close. That means if you have a Medicare Part D plan, you will not have to pay more than $2,000 a year for your meds starting in 2025!

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation is, dollar-for-dollar, one of the best things out there to help with COPD. You can read many success stories on COPD360social from people who learned to exercise safely and manage symptoms better through pulmonary rehab. Unfortunately, many people are not able to take advantage of this wonderful tool. They may live in an area with no programs nearby or they may not be able to get transportation to a program in their area. During the pandemic, "virtual" programs that can be done at home became more readily available. These programs had similar benefits to in-person programs but were much easier for people to use. Unfortunately, the end of the national public health emergency last year also meant the end of Medicare coverage for these programs. Many programs had to shut down. There are two bills in Congress right now that would restore coverage for these programs. That would allow more people to receive the benefits of pulmonary rehab. However, both bills need more sponsors to be successfully passed into law.

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Categories: Advocacy COPD Foundation Initiatives and Activities Health Policy and COPD

Your COPD and Mental Health are Connected: Care for Both

Posted on May 24, 2024   |   

This article was written by Stephanie Williams, BS, RRT.

Living with a chronic illness such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can sometimes make people feel anxious or sad. These feelings can affect how they manage their illness and their overall health, so it is important to spot the signs and know how to get help.

In this blog, Dr. David Hatfield, a primary care doctor and chief physician executive at Village Medical, will give tips on how to feel better both physically and mentally by exercising, spending time with people, and having a good relationship with your doctor.

Let's dive in to discover how you can better understand and navigate the mental health challenges that come with COPD to take control of your well-being.

Can you help our readers understand the important connection between mental health and chronic conditions such as COPD?

COPD can affect more than your physical health - it can harm your mental well-being too. Having a chronic condition such as COPD can lead people to have anxiety and depression. It is normal to feel overwhelmed when learning you have a chronic illness, in part because you may now have a new medication routine. There may also be changes in your body like being tired or short of breath. If you need to use an oxygen machine, you may feel nervous or anxious about leaving home. All these new challenges can be stressful for you.

Even though stress is a feeling, it can have an impact on your body. Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling stressed your heart beats faster and your breathing becomes fast and shallow? This is because when you are under stress, your body produces stress hormones. These hormones can trigger COPD flare-ups or even weaken the immune system causing a domino effect that can make your flare-up worse leading to a hospital stay.

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Categories: Tips for Healthy Living

Tom the Truck Driver Drives COPD Awareness

Posted on May 09, 2024   |   

This article was written by Tara Shedor, MA.

The COPD Foundation was delighted to recently be introduced to Tom of Pennsylvania who is using his time on the road to raise awareness about COPD and inspire our community. The following is an interview with Tom who shares his story about how he became an advocate for those with COPD through supporting his wife, Renee.

Who is your wife and how did she first become diagnosed with COPD?

Renee and Tom

My wife's name is Renee. She is 60 years old and will be 61 on April 25. She was diagnosed with COPD about 10 years ago. At that time, I had no idea what it was. She started having trouble walking and went to the doctor and the doctor diagnosed her with emphysema. She continued smoking, and only about two years later, she started having a lot of trouble breathing. I didn't know what to think. I used to smoke. I had never heard of COPD.

How did things progress for Renee?

They told her she should go on oxygen at night. She had this little tank. Then, eventually, they told her she needed to be on oxygen during the day. I was thinking, “really?” So, she had to be on oxygen all the time. Then next thing you know, it was one liter and then it went to two liters.

As time went on, I slowly started to witness how it was affecting her. She wasn't able to do her normal things in life such as walking distances. At that point I really started to research COPD. For the last 5 years, she became disabled from working, and the disease started to really take control of her abilities to do pretty much anything.

Then, last year, we started all the testing that's needed to qualify for a double lung transplant. This past Tuesday on April 9, she finally made it on the listing. I am scared for her and I'm sure she is also.

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Categories: Advocacy Personal Stories

The Future of COPD Research: Overcoming Current Barriers

Posted on January 08, 2024   |   

This article was written by Michael W. Hess, MPH, RRT, RPFT.

After November, many people feel COPD Awareness Month is behind them. However, for the millions of people affected by COPD, awareness of this condition never goes away. Living with a chronic breathing problem can affect literally every moment of every day. That is why it is so important to not only make sure people with COPD have access to the best available therapies, but that medical research includes helping people breathe better at the top of the list.

I recently asked Dr. David Mannino, Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of the COPD Foundation, for his thoughts on COPD treatments available today and the future of clinical research. Dr. Mannino has experience in epidemiology (the study of how health conditions begin and spread) and continues to see patients at the University of Kentucky. His experience allows him to see COPD disease not only as a scientist, but also as a health care professional and researcher.

In his view, one of the biggest concerns about COPD management right now is the treatments themselves. "Current therapies for COPD have been approved almost exclusively on their ability to increase lung function," he told me. That is largely because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency in charge of approving new medications, has historically focused on things like spirometry measurements to see how "effective" a new drug might be. Getting more air in and out of the lungs is clearly important, but Dr. Mannino adds, "it does not really address the symptoms that are important to patients, such as shortness of air, cough, and sputum (mucus) production."

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Categories: Education, Resources and Studies Medications, Treatments and Therapies

Closing the Gap: Identifying and Treating COPD in Women

Posted on November 20, 2023   |   

This article was written by Dr. Byron Thomashow and Dr. Caroline Carter.

Do you have cough that won't go away? Or feel like you're breathing through a straw? Do you stop halfway up the stairs because you need to catch your breath? If so, it's time to pay attention. These are all signs of a potentially serious condition - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD is a chronic, progressive lung disease that affects more than 30 million people in the United States, and shockingly, over 15 million of them remain undiagnosed. It comprises several conditions, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and can be caused by genetics and irritants like smoke or pollution. In the United States cigarette smoking remains the most common cause but data suggests that 25-40% of COPD occurs in never smokers.

While COPD is widely recognized, there are concerning gender differences in its diagnosis and management. Research has brought to light a significant increase in the number of women being diagnosed with COPD. While mortality rates for COPD have been decreasing, mortality rates are falling slower in women. Women now account for a higher proportion of COPD hospitalizations and in-hospital COPD related deaths. Despite this, women often experience delayed diagnoses compared to men, and it's often challenging for women to receive timely and accurate diagnoses.

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Categories: Education, Resources and Studies Tips for Healthy Living

Empowering Your Journey to Better Lung Health: A Conversation with Your Primary Care Provider

Posted on November 14, 2023   |   

This article was written by Crystal Rothhaar, BS.

Are you at risk for chronic lung disease?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive and potentially debilitating lung condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It comprises several conditions, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and can be caused by genetics and irritants such as smoke or pollution.

In the United States cigarette smoking remains the most common cause but data suggests that 25-40% of COPD occurs in never smokers. Other risk factors include genetics, air pollution, occupational exposures, asthma, impaired lung growth during childhood, and infectious diseases.

The role of primary care in diagnosing, managing, and treating this condition can't be overstated.

"It's vitally important to have an established connection with a primary care provider to manage COPD," says Dr. Louis Gilbert, a primary care physician at Village Medical - a provider of quality primary care. "Your primary care provider will coordinate care with specialists, such as a pulmonologist, when necessary, and make sure you are getting all of your health screenings and vaccines."

Early detection, open communication with a primary care provider, and adherence to treatment plans are critical. In this article, we'll help you take charge of your respiratory health.

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Categories: Education, Resources and Studies Tips for Healthy Living

The Connection Between Mental and Physical Health

Posted on October 25, 2023   |   

This post was written by: Amanda Atkinson, MSN, RN.

We live in a changing world where it seems like the pressures around us grow every day. Mental wellness has never been more important. Mental well-being is not just trendy or a buzzword, it is an important part of our overall health and happiness. Just as we make the health of our body a priority, we must also make our mental wellness a priority. Some people think that these two parts of us are separate. In reality, they are tightly connected.

Dr. Kiran Palande and I discuss some common questions about how your mental health and physical health are connected.

Dr. Palande is a passionate Cardiopulmonary Physiotherapist from Mumbai, India. She received a Master of Physiotherapy in Cardiorespiratory Sciences from NMIMS University. In her current role, she especially enjoys connecting with her patients through pulmonary rehab (an exercise program for those with lung conditions) and is a member of the COPD Foundation's State Captain program. Dr. Palande believes that pulmonary rehab is an essential aspect of care for people with lung conditions.

Dr. Palande, can you talk to us about how a person's mental health can affect their physical health?

Physical and emotional health are connected.

Maintaining good physical health improves lung function while supporting good mental health reduces stress and worry. Both of these can worsen a lung condition. Mental and physical health have an unbreakable connection.

Regular exercise, a good diet, and pulmonary rehab can help to improve lung function. Meanwhile, controlling stress and anxiety with relaxation techniques helps both mental and lung health. For an all-inclusive approach, both mental and physical health must be a focus.

What are some ways that a person can overcome limits and shame surrounding talking about mental wellness?

When a patient is first diagnosed with a lung condition, it is common for them to be worried. Accepting a diagnosis can be difficult. It is important to get educated about common thoughts and feelings related to having a lung condition. This can make it easier for someone to open up about how they are feeling.

It is important to remember that not all days are the same. We all have good days and bad days that we deal with. Every day is different for everyone. Your experiences and feelings are valid, and it is okay to talk about them. In fact, it is an important step to healing.

I have noticed that many people are still hesitant to talk about their emotions. Joining a support group for people with similar lung conditions can bring a sense of connection and understanding. This can often help lessen concerns about talking about your mental wellness.

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Categories: Education, Resources and Studies Personal Stories Tips for Healthy Living

What’s Going On with the IRA?: An update on the Inflation Reduction Act with Jamie Sullivan

Posted on October 23, 2023   |   

This article was written by Bailey McCrary.

My name is Bailey McCrary, Advocacy and Public Policy Manager at the COPD Foundation. As you may be aware, changes to Medicare have been discussed by the United States government. Because these changes could impact COPD patients, I wanted to learn more about one of the sources of these changes: the Inflation Reduction Act. I decided to chat with Jamie Sullivan, Senior Director of Public Policy at the EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases. Jamie spent 10 years with the COPD Foundation and is a subject matter expert on health policy. She will help us understand the origins of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), what it looks like today, and what the future may hold for individuals impacted by this legislation

Jamie has been tracking the Inflation Reduction Act for many months now, and we are so happy to be able to connect with her to get a better understanding of what is going on with this critical American policy.

Can you describe how the Inflation Reduction Act came to be?

The Inflation Reduction Act, or the IRA, was passed in August of 2022 on a partisan basis. "Partisan" means it was developed and passed with support from only one political party, in this case - democrats. The IRA deals with many issues, including domestic energy production, climate change, IRS reform, and healthcare.

The IRA was passed as a "reconciliation" bill, allowing a simple majority of at least 51 votes in the Senate. This bypassed the 60-vote requirement that often holds up legislation without support from both Republicans and Democrats. When reconciliation is used to pass a bill, everything in the bill must directly impact the federal budget. This rule limited what the IRA can do, especially in the healthcare space. You can view a glossary of legislative and advocacy terms here.

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Categories: Advocacy Community Announcements Health Policy and COPD Medications, Treatments and Therapies

FDA Approves Treatment for COVID-19 in Adults

Posted on May 26, 2023   |   

On May 25, 2023 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first oral antiviral pill to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult patients who have underlying conditions or are at high risk of complications from COVID.

This medication, called Paxlovid, was originally available under the emergency use authorization (EUA) and was made available through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As of the writing of this post, the United States government will continue to make Paxlovid available to U.S. residents at no charge.

For more information about the approval of Paxlovid, please visit the FDA website or speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

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Categories: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Are your supplements making you sneeze and wheeze?

Posted on May 15, 2023   |   

This post was authored by Kristen Szymonik, BS, RRT, AE-C

Many of us take supplements and vitamins to help us stay healthy. But do you know what's really in your supplements? Many people think that supplements are safe because they are natural. But those of us with seasonal allergies know that things found in nature can cause severe allergic reactions.

Think about the supplements that you take. What are the names of the ingredients? Have you looked up those scientific-sounding names to find out what they mean? You might be surprised to know that you could be taking a supplement that contains things you are allergic to.

For example, did you know that if you're allergic to ragweed, you should avoid supplements and teas that contain chamomile, echinacea, dandelion, and daisy flowers? These plants are all from the same family and can have "cross reactivity." That means that they can cause allergy symptoms for people who are allergic to other plants in that family, such as ragweed, which is a very common fall allergen.1, 2

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Categories: Education, Resources and Studies Tips for Healthy Living

Reworked DreamStation Recall

Posted on April 10, 2023   |   

April 7, 2023 Philips DreamStations Recall - The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a notice that certain Philips Respironics DreamStation CPAP and BiPAP machines have been recalled. This recall is for certain reworked DreamStation devices that were assigned incorrect or duplicate serial numbers. A machine with an incorrect serial number is a problem because therapy may be delivered using the wrong prescription or factory default settings. It could even fail to deliver any therapy. If such an error occurs, there is no warning or alert. This failure could lead to health problems such as respiratory failure, heart failure, injury, or death.

For questions and support, please contact Philips Respironics by calling 1-877-387-3311 or by emailing You can also visit the FDA website to learn more.

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Categories: Equipment, Device, and Product Recalls

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