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To the Editor:
According to latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in [INSERT STATE NAME] more than [INSERT PERCENTAGE] of our residents are diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), causing [INSERT AMOUNT OF DEATHS OF COPD] in our state in 2010 alone. This serious lung disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 12 million diagnosed nationwide.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that an additional 12 million Americans remain undiagnosed — many living with the symptoms of COPD for years before talking to a health care provider. With COPD, symptoms — such as chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, excessive phlegm production or being unable to take a deep breath — come on slowly and worsen over time. Often, symptoms are brushed off as a sign of aging, being out of shape or having a cold, and breathing problems are not discussed with a health care provider during a regular check-up.
But with early detection and the start of a treatment regimen, the disease can be managed and quality of life improved. According to data from the annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), 62.5 percent of those diagnosed with COPD say its symptoms have a negative impact on their quality of life. An earlier conversation with their health care provider may help detect COPD earlier and lead to managing the disease sooner.
One of the most common risk factors for COPD is a history of smoking (current and former) — but it is not the only risk factor. Prolonged exposure to dust, fumes and secondhand smoke in the workplace and at home, as well as a genetic predisposition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may also put you at risk for COPD.
If you or someone you love is exhibiting any of the signs of COPD, we urge you to start the conversation — talk to your health care provider about your symptoms. Ask for a simple breathing test called spirometry — it is a non-invasive lung function test that measures air flow and obstruction in your lungs.
For more information on COPD, visit [INSERT ORGANIZATION LINK] or the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's COPD Learn More Breathe Better® campaign at http://COPD.nhlbi.nih.gov.
[Your organization's leader]
[Name of your organization]