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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

FDA Device Correction – Life2000, March 10, 2023

Posted on March 12, 2023   |   

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a medical device correction for all Baxter International’s Life2000 Ventilation Systems. There is potential for the user’s oxygen saturation to fall to dangerous levels during use while the equipment is attached to an oxygen source. As mentioned in an earlier communication from the FDA, users can continue to use their machines, but they should perform careful daily inspections of the tubing and the equipment in use – both the Life2000 Ventilation System and the oxygen source. Routine cleaning procedures should be performed as described in the Life2000 user manuals.

A device correction is different from a recall because the device may still be used if the user takes the precautions listed on the FDA website. Baxter intends to communicate with the patients using this equipment, but for anyone with further questions, you may call Baxter’s Clinical Support Team at 800-397-9071.

For the full FDA statement and information on how to report adverse events related to this device correction, please visit the FDA website.

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Categories: Equipment, Device, and Product Recalls

FDA Releases Data Related to Philips Recalls

Posted on February 10, 2023   |   

February 9, 2023 - The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement today related to the Philips Respironics recall of respiratory assist devices such as CPAP, BiPAP, and Trilogy machines. All device manufacturers are required to file medical device reports (MDRs) when they become aware that their devices have caused injury or death. To learn more about the MDRs filed by Philips Respironics, please visit the FDA website.

Patients and health care professionals can file voluntary reports for adverse reactions with the FDA through their respective links.

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Categories: Equipment, Device, and Product Recalls

Do Over-The-Counter Portable Oxygen Concentrators Actually Work? The Results of a COPD Foundation Study

Posted on February 07, 2023   |   

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

In 2021, our Oxygen360 team noticed that online retailers were selling machines listed as “portable oxygen concentrators (POCs).” Many POCs are a good way for many people to stay mobile and active. However, they are not a good fit for everyone. They use a type of oxygen delivery called pulse dosing to conserve oxygen. This is different than the continuous flow from a regular concentrator. They are not able to provide high liter flow rates for people who need lots of oxygen during exercise or activity. Medicare and other insurance companies are not always willing to pay for them. That means they can be very expensive to get. Finally, they should always be prescribed by a licensed health care provider.

The machines available online were different. They only cost a few hundred dollars, a fraction of what the standard models cost. They claimed that they could provide five, six, even seven liters a minute of continuous flow, far more than any other on the market. Best of all, they could be ordered without a prescription, lowering the number of paperwork hoops someone had to jump through. Their advertising was slick and professional. People in white coats were seen alongside people wearing nasal cannulas. Those with cannulas were seen living their best lives thanks to the freedom these machines seemed to provide. It seemed almost too good to be true. Looking at the fine print, there were some disclaimers that the statements had not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (much like one might see on the label of a nutritional supplement). Those disclaimers meant that the machines themselves had not gone through any kind of FDA testing for safety or effectiveness. Far from being medical devices like true POCs, these machines seemed to be no more than fancy air compressors. But these were buried far down in the descriptions, easy to overlook.

The COPD Foundation immediately took action against these “noncentrators,” writing a position statement against the sale of these machines. We also created a petition so the community could also ask these retailers to stop selling them. But we also knew that to make our case more strongly, we would need evidence. We started looking at ways we could prove that these machines were making false claims and that they could be putting people at risk.

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

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