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The COPD Learn More Breathe Better® campaign's Country Conquers COPD™ event series kicked off the summer by spreading awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) throughout the Mid-West. From June 23rd-26th, the COPD tent buzzed with the sound of healthy breathing at the Country Stampede in Manhattan, Kansas. Over 6,000 attendees stopped by to pick up important lung health information, talk to local lung health experts and get answers to their COPD questions. Nearly 750 Stampeders took advantage of free spirometry testing — all while enjoying the music of country artists such as Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum.
The next stop on the Country Conquers COPD tour was the 35th annual Jamboree in the Hills in Belmont, Ohio which featured performances from Tim McGraw, Toby Keith and Miranda Lambert, among others. Over 6,000 festival-goers stopped by the tent between July 15th-17th to learn about COPD and to pick up educational materials — with more than 700 obtaining free spirometry testing.
Every Country Conquers COPD event offers a unique opportunity for attendees to take the first step to breathing better by finding out more about the signs and symptoms of COPD, and to gauge their own risk for the disease. The COPD Learn More Breathe Better team gives special thanks to the Kansas Respiratory Care Society, the Ohio Society for Respiratory Care, the West Virginia Society for Respiratory Care, the Pennsylvania Society for Respiratory Care, Gibson Guitar, the COPD Foundation and the many volunteer respiratory therapists and students who helped to make our first two events this summer such a success!
But our summer road trip isn't over just yet. Beat the heat and check out our tents in August and September at State Fairs in both Maryland and Western Idaho. Plus, our COPD Learn More Breathe Better subcontractors will also promote healthy lungs this summer and fall by conducting their own Country Conquers COPD events in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia, and West Virginia. Visit the Country Conquers COPD portion of the site to find out more and to see pictures and footage from past events. We look forward to seeing you!
by Antonello Punturieri, M.D., Ph.D., NHLBI Division of Lung Diseases
You might be aware that the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), located on the outskirts of Washington DC in Bethesda, MD, is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and that it is the Institute with primary responsibility for research on COPD. However, what you might not know is that most of the research supported by the NHLBI is actually conducted at universities and medical centers across the country. Investigators submit applications for particular research projects, and a highly competitive, peer-review process is used to select the most meritorious proposals for funding.
The NHLBI's wide-ranging program in COPD includes basic science and animal studies of underlying disease mechanisms; clinical studies of COPD risk factors, genetics, molecular and cellular defects, imaging abnormalities, disease progression, and co-morbidities; investigations of diagnostic tests and the effects of potential drugs; clinical trials; and comparative effectiveness research.
A recent presentation at the 2011 American Thoracic Society meeting in Denver exemplifies the research supported by the NHLBI and the scientific progress that is being made. A group of investigators conducted a clinical trial to test whether a drug approved by the FDA for other uses could also prevent acute exacerbations in individuals with COPD. This study, which recruited more than 1,100 COPD patients, showed that the antibiotic azithromycin, when added to usual treatment and taken daily for one year, decreased the number of exacerbations and improved quality of life in patients prone to flares of COPD. This is an exciting result, but more research will be needed to better understand exactly who should take azithromycin and when.
Of course, many of the people who received azithromycin in the trial described above still had an exacerbation, so it is important to continue research on additional interventions. The NHLBI is now funding the same group of investigators to conduct a similar trial using simvastatin, a statin drug normally prescribed to control cholesterol levels. That ongoing trial, abbreviated STATCOPE, will recruit more than 1,100 participants in the U.S. and Canada. For more information on the NHLBI-funded COPD Clinical Research network and the STATCOPE trial check out these links: http://www.copdcrn.org/ and http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01061671?term=STATCOPE&rank=1
Jill Heins, Director of Respiratory Health, American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest
Jill Heins is no stranger to being an advocate for COPD awareness — she's been working to raise awareness and understanding of the disease since 2005. At the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, Jill is the Director of Respiratory Health for Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “I was always amazed at how little was known about COPD such as who has it, age of first diagnosis, gender, number of hospitalizations, treatment, etc.,” Heins says. This curiosity spurred her 2006 launch of a year-long epidemiology research study of COPD that included a survey of 2000 patients with COPD.
Heins' research did not go unnoticed. The completion of her study led to several peer-reviewed articles and editorials in professional journals and helped to spur the launch of the Minnesota COPD Coalition. After forming the Coalition, Heins and her colleague Cheryl Sasse held the first Minnesota COPD Summit and developed a statewide strategic plan to conquer COPD.
Heins remains dedicated to working on COPD. She staffs the Minnesota COPD Coalition leadership and is part of the Minnesota Environmental Health Tracking and Biomonitoring Advisory Panel, which monitors various chronic diseases including COPD. The Coalition's newest strategic plan focuses on advocacy, early diagnosis, public awareness, management, and treatment. The Coalition has held spirometry training courses for over 1320 health care professionals and is developing recommendations for COPD-related transition of care for out-patient visits, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and home care.
COPD Learn More Breathe Better® and Country Conquers COPD™ are trademarks of HHS.
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