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ARI JAFFE: My name is Ari Jaffe. I'm a physician specializing in lung disease and I work at the University of Illinois at Chicago and at the Jesse Brown VA. Well I see a lot of COPD being a pulmonologist and specifically working at the VA hospital. I don't know if people realize it's the 4th leading cause of death in the United States and the rates are climbing faster than the first 3 leading causes. In fact more women today die of COPD than men. So we need to be aware of this disorder not just in our veterans who smoke who are men but also in the women and in the general population.
MS: Well I was diagnosed last October right after running the Chicago last year with COPD.
FS: My father he had emphysema so he died 15 years ago and he was just 49 when he died. He spent the last 15 years of his life with that illness.
FS: I have an Aunt that has COPD and I see how she's suffering and I think it's really important to know. Well I know from personal experience of seeing her that she has difficulty breathing, she has difficulty walking very far because she runs out of breath and it's absolutely debilitating for a woman in her 70s.
FS: I saw the COPD sign, my Dad died of COPD back in 1981. I can remember my Dad he was a heavy smoker and he would hang over the fence just trying to get air, trying to breathe, take in air.
FS: My husband has COPD and we've been dealing with it for about 10 years. You know what? I think it was gradual but we really didn't notice it because I would notice him being short of breath during certain things but it wasn't where it affected him that much. Then all of a sudden he got up one day, it was just like, you know he said there was like a rock on his chest and he just couldn't breathe.
ARI JAFFE: Well the test is really easy it's called spirometry it takes less than 5 minutes, all it takes is breathing into a tube as hard as you can, it's painless, it's quick. Many people don't realize how painless and quick it is.
MS: She just had me take a real deep breath and had me blow it all the way out even till there's nothing left and then get off of the machine right away. The whole thing took maybe a minute and a half.
FS: You just have to take a really, really deep breath and then hold your nose, she told me was a good trick. And then breathe out for 6 seconds and she has a little computer and it does all the math for her.
ARI JAFFE: Patients sometimes are a little nervous about finding out if they do have a disability or if they do have signs or symptoms
that may be suggestive of COPD. But if they're smokers, they may have cough or other signs and symptoms, shortness of breath. They should get tested, it's easy, it doesn't hurt.
MS: I developed respiratory disease. I got pneumonia. Then I went through a series of tests over the last year, it's helpful to understand what, what it is, you know how, like I said how to try to minimize the things that you know affect you.
FS: When somebody in your family has COPD it's not only affecting that person, it affects everybody in the family. It affects the grandkids, the kids, I mean you know he can't pickup the grandkids like he wants to, he can't go out and play with them like he wants to. The doctor and myself and my husband actually you know how a bunch of visits to get him setup on the program which is very important because my husband wouldn't be able to function now if we didn't watch his disease and take care of his disease.
MS: Work with your doctor on a treatment plan to try to make sure you get on the right medication and, and live as healthy as you can.
ARI JAFFE: Well I see patients with COPD everyday and too often I see them too late. I'd much rather see them much earlier where we can try and do interventions that may help them quit smoking and maybe make their life and certainly improve the quality of life with some of the opportunities we have for treatment both with lifestyle and with medication.
FS: When you're not breathing correctly your whole life, it seems different.
FS: Well I learned that you know, you may think that you're okay, and you really need to stop and find out how things are with you as far as your lungs, so I learned something today that I didn't know so now I can follow up with that.