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COPD Essentials for Health Professionals - from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Posted Dec 14 2008 7:48pm

Note from Karen - This publication by theNHLBIis being promoted as a “Pocket-sized reference card for health professionals containing COPD essentials and listing risk factors and diagnosis and treatment options.”Certainly there is a valuable amount of information presented in a succinct format on this page. I’m grateful, as I’m sure the rest of the COPD community is grateful, to the NHLBI for making this educational material readily available.

As a patient, I learn something more from this pocket size reference card for health professionals. I am reminded once again of the vital importance of taking responsibility for educating ourselves about this disease and becoming a constant and vigilant advocate for our own health care.

If you have COPD, please learn everything you can. Then Speak Up about what you know! Work in partnership with the professionals who treat you. Be proactive on your own behalf. It’s hard work and we don’t always have a lot of extra energy to spend, but my friends - you owe it to yourself. You are worth it!

On to the card…


point > Primary care providers have a key role in the diagnosis and management of COPD.

point> Consider diagnosis of COPD in adults with shortness of breath, with or without symptoms of cough and sputum production.

point> Risk factors other than cigarette smoking history are important. Ten to 20 percent of cases may be due to environmental and occupational exposures.

point> Pulmonary function testing is useful for determining the severity of COPD and distinguishing from asthma.

point> Therapies are effective. Proactive treatment can improve the quality of life for patients with COPD.

> While other major causes of death have been decreasing, COPD mortality has continued to rise.
> COPD is the 4th leading cause of death.
> 12 million Americans are diagnosed with COPD; research shows that many do not get optimal treatment.
> An additional 12 million Americans may have COPD and remain undiagnosed.
> Recent advances in treatment for COPD offer real opportunities to improve your patient’s quality and length of life.

Look for COPD in patients who are over 40 and have:
Persistent or progressive dyspnea
> Chronic cough or sputum production
> Decline in level of activity
> COPD is more likely if there is a history of smoking.
> Genetic factors and environmental or occupational exposures may also play a role: as many as 1 out of 6 Americans with COPD has never smoked.

> Perform or refer for a lung function test—spirometry— to determine the severity. Spirometry with bronchodilator testing may distinguish COPD from asthma.
> A criterion for diagnosis of COPD is a postbronchodilator FEV1/FVC<0.7.

> Aggressive management of COPD can make a difference for the patient.
> Advances in therapies have been shown to improve survival or quality of life for COPD patients.
> COPD patients should receive professional assistance for smoking cessation.

While there is no cure, early detection and treatment of COPD can slow the disease and improve quality of life. Learn more

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