Courtesy of American Lung Association
If asked to name the third leading cause of death in the United States, few would guess chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Fewer would guess that women are 37 percent more likely to have COPD than men and now account for more than half of all COPD deaths in America. These are some of the eye-opening findings revealed in the American Lung Association's latest report, "Taking Her Breath Away: The Rise of COPD in Women," which examines increased COPD prevalence among women in the United States.
"Taking Her Breath Away: The Rise of COPD in Women," released on June 5, is the latest in the Lung Association's Disparities in Lung Health Series. It explores how COPD, once thought of as a "disease of older white men," has become a major and increasing health threat for women. More than 7 million women in the United States currently have COPD, and millions more have symptoms but have yet to be diagnosed. The number of deaths among women from COPD has more than quadrupled since 1980, and the disease has claimed the lives of more women than men in this country each year since 2000.
COPD is a progressive lung disease, with no known cure, that slowly robs its sufferers of the ability to breathe freely. Smoking is the primary cause of COPD, but there are other important causes such as air pollution. The report identifies a complex interplay of risk-factor exposures, biological susceptibility and sociocultural dynamics that work together to increase COPD's burden on women. Foremost, the rise of COPD in women is closely tied to the success of tobacco industry marketing that targeted women, particularly in the late 1960s. The impact of the tobacco industry's success in addicting women smokers decades ago is still resulting in new cases of COPD and other tobacco-related illness as those women age.
The report also offers guidance for Government agencies, the research community, health systems, and many others can take now to address this deadly disease. To download a copy of the report, visit: www.lung.org/copdinwomen.
Saba Firoozi, Lung Health Educator and Project Manager for BREATHE LA
As the lead Lung Health Educator and Project Manager for BREATHE LA's Better Breathers Club™ COPD education program, Saba Firoozi leads the charge in developing COPD education materials, trainings, seminars, and workshops for program participants.
From an early age, she became passionate about helping people improve their quality of life, leading her to study nutrition as an undergraduate and ultimately obtain a master's in public health to help others live healthier lives. "When the chance arose to work with a lung health organization and a COPD program, it presented a wonderful opportunity for me," said Firoozi. "I love educating others about lung health and helping people manage chronic lung disease."
Now, as a health educator, Firoozi is not only a veteran with BREATHE LA's COPD program, she has also become involved in the organization's activities to strengthen COPD awareness and outreach in Los Angeles County as part of the Breathe Better Network. Among other activities, she has been instrumental in three different COPD support groups around Los Angeles County, playing a key role in facilitating the BREATHE LA Annual COPD Conference, conducting lung capacity exams, administering COPD population screeners for early detection and conducting several COPD workshops every month that provide valuable COPD education for patients and health care professionals.
Firoozi also serves on the BREATHE LA Program and Research Committee and played a key role in planning this year's Trudeau Society Samuel J. Sills MD Visiting Scholar Lecture Series, which brings together pulmonologists and allied health professionals to discuss COPD. Her passion for COPD education and support is a welcome addition to the COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign's Breathe Better Network.
In October 2009, the COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign formalized its partnership network and launched the Breathe Better Network. Since then, Network members have been steadily at work spreading awareness about COPD and in doing so, have expanded the Campaign's reach to all 50 States and the District of Columbia. The Network continues to grow and recently added three new organizations to its ranks:
Spartanburg Medical Research
Spartanburg Medical Research (SMR) has been conducting clinical research trials, particularly in the area of respiratory health, since 1990. Located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, SMR regularly conducts community outreach through its presence at local health fairs to reach those at risk for COPD in order to raise awareness of the disease, providing educational materials as well as making respiratory examinations available. The organization also works closely with students in local respiratory care programs to increase their knowledge of core concepts in respiratory medicine.
Use-inhalers.com is an independent health care organization based in Rhode Island that works with asthma, allergy, and COPD-focused institutions worldwide to provide patient education on inhalation therapy. The website delivers interactive step-by-step audio-visual training to respiratory patients and health care providers on how to use inhaler devices. The resources are available in multiple languages and for different online devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine is located in Dayton, Ohio, and serves the Miami Valley region of Southwest Ohio. It is affiliated with seven teaching hospitals in the Greater Dayton area, allowing medical students and residential physicians to work with a diverse range of patients and health care facilities. The Department of Internal Medicine is joining the Breathe Better Network as a core partner and will be providing COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign resources to patients and physicians.
Please join the COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign in welcoming these new Breathe Better Network members! If you know of a group or organization that might be a strong addition to the Network, please let us know by sending an email to NHLBIinfo@nhlbi.nih.gov.