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Friday’s COPD Newsletter from COPD Support, Inc.

Posted Aug 06 2010 6:25am

Volume 10, Issue 36
August 6, 2010
Richard D. Martin, Co-Editor

What does the risk of smoking and the risk of not having social relationships have in common? You’ll have to read the following to find out!

Having COPD not only takes a physical toll on us, but for many of us, as COPD progresses, it also takes an emotional toll. Complaints of depression and anxiety, including panic attacks and claustrophobia are not uncommon. Some of us with one or more of these conditions compound our burden by feeling guilty or embarrassed about them. We are often reluctant to talk about our difficulties for fear of distancing those around us, or worse, having to hear from others that we have an attitude problem. The net consequence of all of this can often result in a decreased social life, and in extreme cases, isolation. Many of us take our situation in stride, and accept that as our COPD progresses, a decreased social life is just part of the COPD package. However, we may not all be fully aware of how extremely important our social relationships are to our health – both our mental health as well as our physical health. In fact, meaningful relationships are not just important to us because of our unique illness, they are, it appears, equally important to healthy people as well. The big surprise is that they affect us more than most of us would ever imagine.

In a study published by the Public Library of Science entitled, “Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta Analytical Review,” the researchers Julianne Huylt-Lunstat, Timothy B. Smith, and Bradley Layton, found that social relationships are linked not only to mental health (which is what most of us would expect), but also to the incidence of disease and mortality. In other words, strong social relationships help people live longer – all people, not just those of us with an illness. What makes this study powerful is that compiles statistics on 148 different studies that involve a whopping 308,849 people!

What the above noted researchers found was a “50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships.” They also found that this was true regardless of “age, sex, initial health status, cause of death, and follow-up period.” Their study also points out a number of other interesting things, such as the number of people in the USA who say that have no close confidant has increased three-fold during the last 20 years. Bottom line is although we know how hard it can be to maintain and develop relationships with others when we have physical and/or emotional challenges related to our COPD, perhaps some of us need to make a renewed effort to engage with others. It seems, at least for some of us, that we should add “improve relationships” to the top of our “to do” list, or think of our relationships as the life savers that they are. Getting more involved socially, even if it is over the Internet with others with COPD, is, apparently, very good medicine. Although we may be united in our search for information about COPD, perhaps the emotional attachments to others we find along the way are as important as the information we gather. In this respect, we all have something valuable to offer others.

Saving the best for last brings us to this very special quote from this important study: “These findings indicate that the influence of social relationships on the risk of death are comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity.” Imagine that! You are invited to read the complete study at

News items summarized in The COPD-NEWS are taken from secondary sources believed to be reliable. However, the COPD Family of Services does not verify their accuracy.


Having completed its phase three trial of the new antibiotic “Restanza,” manufacturer Advanced Life Sciences Holdings, Inc, has stated in a press release that it is asking the FDA to fast track their novel antibiotic. This once-daily oral medication treats community acquired bacterial pneumonia, a disease of special concern to the COPD community. This is important new drug because it is believed to be able to treat some of the resistant strains of bacterial pneumonia. For more information about this drug, visit the manufacturer’s web site at

As Medicare tries to expand its anti fraud activities, a new scam is emerging that preys upon Medicare recipients who have a Medicare Part D prescription coverage plan and who have reached the donut hole. Medicare recipients with Part D plans are reminded that they do not have to do anything to receive their $250 rebate check. This rebate check is automatically sent to those enrolled in Part D drug plan shortly after they descend into the donut hole. Recipients are not contacted by Medicare regarding this rebate, so do not answer any questions from anyone claiming to be associated with the rebate. If you receive a call, note the telephone number and contact Medicare (1-800-Medicare) immediately. You’ll find more information here

In the future, your exacerbations may be measured according the EXACT standard (short for Exacerbation of Pulmonary Disease Tool). Pharmaceutical sponsors interested in improving treatment of COPD have funded research into developing this standardized tool to evaluate exacerbations. The tool can be used to help determine treatment as well as used to standardize research. To read more about this international effort, visit

A team of researchers led by Dr. Graham Barr of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City found in their study of 2,816 people that individuals even with mild COPD had abnormalities of the heart, sometime even before symptoms of COPD appeared. It must be pointed out that none of the participants had severe COPD or had heart disease, and they were all generally healthy. This study concludes that impairments to the heart occur much earlier than believed. Although the researchers fall short of claiming early intervention for COPD will spare the heart, it certainly raises the possibility. For a full report of the study, visit

Cardiologist and the physician in chief at John Hopkins Hospital reports in an editorial for an upcoming New England Journal of Medicine that CPR without mouth-to-mouth rescue might be better for people in cardiac arrest. For the full report, please see

We do not accept any paid advertising. Any corporations, products, medicines (prescription or over the counter) mentioned in this newsletter are for informational purposes only and not to be construed as an endorsement or condemnation of same.

Flu vaccines this year will include the H1N vaccine, so one injection is all that is needed. It will protect against three strains of flu. Need more information? Visit

Yes, Lyndon Johnson signed it into law and the Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess got the first Medicare cards. It pays to have connections. Need to do some research on Medicare or find some answers to your questions? Then visit their website (below), or give them a call, 1-800-MEDICARE. If you call them, they’ll even bring you up to date on the preventive care services to which you are currently entitled.

In the August issue of Chest, the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, researchers report that diabetes may also negatively affect lungs, in a manner comparable to smoking. They also speculate that diabetes may also accelerate lung function declines for those with COPD. Although you have to register for access to the complete study, the abstract of the article is available at

Your physician should be consulted on all medical decisions. New procedures or drugs should not be started or stopped without such consultation. While we believe that our accumulated experience has value, and a unique perspective, you must accept it for what it is… the work of COPD patients. We vigorously encourage individuals with COPD to take an active part in the management of their disease. They do this through education and by sharing information and thoughts with their primary physician and pulmonologist. However, medical decisions are based on complex medical principles and should be left to the medical practitioner who has been trained to diagnose and advise.

JOIN US? Subscription to this Newsletter is free and we hope that it serves your needs. For more Newsletter information, go to:

The Newsletter, like all the other endeavors of the Family of COPD Support Programs , is provided to you by COPD-Support, Inc . a non-profit member organization with IRS designation 501(c)(3). If you would like to be
involved and help us provide these programs to the individuals who benefit from them, please consider joining us as a member. Further information is available at:

Do you like to take your time with a game and not need a tranquilizer when you are finished?

This will improve your hand-eye coordination…or drive you stark-raving mad!

Until next Friday,
Richard D. Martin, Co-Editor

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