World COPD Day and Free Screening Event - 11/14 from 1-3 pm at HCS in Keene
October 30, 2012
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, more commonly called COPD, is the third leading cause of death in NH behind cancer and heart disease. Yet, COPD often goes unrecognized and underappreciated. On November 14, 2012, which is World COPD Day, Home Healthcare, Hospice, and Community Services (HCS), Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene (CMC/DHK), and BreatheNH are teaming up to provide free COPD screenings and raise awareness about the disease in Cheshire County.
COPD, also known as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, makes it progressively more difficult to breathe, and over time can severely limit physical activity and worsen the quality of one's life. People over the age of forty who are current or former smokers are at the greatest risk. Environmental pollutants, second hand smoke exposure, and a specific genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency also put people at risk.
Symptoms of COPD may include: coughing, shortness of breath, excess phlegm, wheezing, fatigue, and frequent respiratory infections. As the disease progresses, daily activities such as climbing stairs and brisk walking may become difficult.
Screening for COPD is accomplished with a simple breathing test called spirometry - a painless and quick lung function test which can identify signs of COPD before symptoms become severe.
It's important to know that COPD is preventable and treatable. According to Dr. Andrew Tremblay, Chair of the Family Medicine Department at CMC/DHK, there are national guidelines and best practices that local health providers follow to ensure optimal control of the disease and that reduce exacerbations. "The most important consideration is to stop smoking and avoid tobacco." says Tremblay. "For those with COPD, we find that education about the disease and involving patients in decisions about their care is very important. Better nutrition, appropriate physical conditioning and exercise, availability of pulmonary rehab services, and appropriate medication therapy all improve a patient's quality of life."
"Taking medication as directed and having a plan, should the disease start to flare, are important elements to reduce unnecessary setbacks, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations," offers Terry Clough, RN and care coordinator at CMC/DHK, who has helped to created many COPD patient care plans. Clough also advises, "People need to know that it is never too late to stop smoking and that lung function improves when people stop using tobacco."
If you or a friend or loved one wishes to be screened for COPD and learn more about the disease, please attend the free screening event at HCS at 312 Marlboro Street in Keene, NH on Wednesday, November 14 from 1 to 3 pm. Representatives from the Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities will also be available with free carbon monoxide testing, quit kits and support, if smokers wish to kick the tobacco habit.