The country’s newest health initiative, DRIVE4COPD, announced today that it has added the largest association of respiratory therapists - The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) - to its ranks. The AARC joins DRIVE4COPD, the Official Health Initiative of NASCAR®, and fellow partnering organizations the American Lung Association, COPD Foundation and founding sponsor Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in a combined effort to increase awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The AARC’s 50,000 member respiratory therapists, located in all 50 states, will join in DRIVE4COPD’s nationwide search for the millions of people who may be at risk for COPD and don’t know it. Currently, half of the estimated 24 million Americans who may have COPD remain undiagnosed. Most people are not diagnosed until they have lost half their lung function.
“We are often in contact with patients who are aware of how they are feeling but don’t realize that they are showing symptoms of a progressive disease that can rob them of their ability to breathe,” said AARC President and registered respiratory therapist Timothy Myers. “Joining the DRIVE4COPD campaign is a natural extension of our work as respiratory therapists. We strive to encourage, support and guide patients as they take steps to protect their lung function.”
Since launching in February 2010, the DRIVE4COPD campaign has screened more than 200,000 people for their risk for COPD through a brief, five-question screener available on DRIVE4COPD.COM. If the screener indicates they may be at risk for COPD, the results should be printed and brought to their health care provider to discuss.
“Taking the screener is a great first step to find out if you might be at risk,” said Go Daddy and NASCAR Nationwide Series™ driver Danica Patrick, whose grandmother had COPD. “With the AARC on board, we have the added frontline reach of respiratory therapists to help get people educated and hopefully, the help they need.”
Patrick is part of the DRIVE4COPD Race Team*, a group of people competing this year to screen the most people who may be at risk for the disease. The Race Team also includes Emmy-nominated actor Jim Belushi, Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner, Grammy Award-winning country music star Patty Loveless and Pro Football great Michael Strahan. Each has a loved one who struggled with COPD.
* The members of the DRIVE4COPD Race Team are paid spokespeople of the founding sponsor.
Early Diagnosis and Understanding the Disease
Often, shortness of breath and coughing are not recognized as symptoms of COPD and are confused with normal signs of aging. Detecting and managing COPD in the earlier stages will not reverse the disease, but it can help patients decrease and control symptoms. While COPD cannot be cured, it can be treated.
“COPD is a chronic and progressive disease that develops slowly, so it can be years before patients feel its impact,” says AARC Associate Executive Director/COO and registered respiratory therapist Thomas Kallstrom. “That’s why it is so important to understand this disease, recognize symptoms in early stages and take action to manage the condition.”
Physical activity, as advised by a physician and a respiratory therapist, and good nutrition can help patients with COPD to reduce fatigue, improve dyspnea (shortness of breath) and improve the capacity for functional exercise, which translates to a more normal lifestyle.
Don’t give up! A diagnosis of COPD doesn’t mean you can’t stay active. By following your doctor’s orders and exercising correctly, you can maintain a fulfilling and productive lifestyle.
Look into a pulmonary rehabilitation program. These programs teach breathing techniques, such as energy conservation while exercising, nutrition and useful information that help patients better manage their COPD.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – also known as chronic bronchitis and emphysema – makes it harder to breathe because less air is able to flow in and out of the lungs.
As many as 24 million Americans may have COPD – even those who haven’t smoked in years – and half of them remain undiagnosed. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It kills one person every four minutes, and more people each year than breast cancer and diabetes combined.
Common symptoms of COPD include coughing, with or without mucus, and/or shortness of breath. These symptoms are often confused with normal signs of aging. As COPD progresses, symptoms tend to get worse and more damage occurs in the lungs. Breathing gradually becomes more difficult until people with COPD feel like they are inhaling and exhaling through a small straw.
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the founding sponsor of the campaign, has joined forces with a cross-section of organizations on DRIVE4COPD to bring COPD to the forefront including:
American Association for Respiratory Care
The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) is the leading national and international professional association for respiratory care. The AARC encourages and promotes professional excellence, advances the science and practice of respiratory care, and serves as an advocate for patients and their families, the public, the profession and the respiratory therapist. To learn more about the AARC visit the website at www.aarc.org or visit our consumer website www.yourlunghealth.org .
American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lungusa.org .
The COPD Foundation is a not-for-profit organization created in 2004, and has become the COPD community’s forefront organization, driven by the individuals affected by COPD, that has addressed educational, research and advocacy issues that concern the community in order to improve the quality of life for the 24 million Americans affected by COPD. For more information about the COPD Foundation and its programs, call the C.O.P.D. Information Line at 1-866-316-COPD (2673) or visit the website at www.copdfoundation.org .
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for one of North America’s premier sports. NASCAR®-sanctioned races are broadcast in more than 150 countries and 20 languages. NASCAR® fans are the most brand-loyal in all of sports, and as a result more Fortune 500 companies participate in NASCAR® than any other sport.
About Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Ridgefield, CT, is the largest U.S. subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation (Ridgefield, CT) and a member of the Boehringer Ingelheim group of companies.
The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 142 affiliates in 50 countries and more than 41,500 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel products of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.
In 2009, Boehringer Ingelheim posted net sales of US $17.7 billion (12.7 billion euro) while spending 21% of net sales in its largest business segment, Prescription Medicines, on research and development.