How to Prevent COPD - The 4th Leading Cause of Death in the United States
What is COPD?
COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is an overarching term to describe chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
COPD is a significant cause of disability and the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there is currently no cure for COPD, it can be managed by working with your primary care physician and potentially a specialist if necessary.
Who does COPD Affect?
In the United States, COPD affects more than 15 million adults. According to Healthline, COPD used to be considered a male-dominated disease, but today more than half of those diagnosed are women.
What are the Symptoms of COPD?
· Increased shortness of breath
· Frequent coughing (with and without mucus)
· Tightness in the chest
· Unusual tiredness
How Do People Develop COPD?
COPD can be prevented by not smoking. 85 – 90% of people with COPD smoke or have previously smoked, making smoking the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, a rare genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency can also cause this disease.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency often runs in families. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor if you smoke or have smoked or if someone in your family is diagnosed with an AAT deficiency or was diagnosed with COPD in their 40s or 50s.
COPD is not curable. However, with the proper diagnosis and treatment, there are things you can do to breathe better and enjoy life for many years.
How to Decrease Your Chances of Developing COPD
Aside from not smoking, a few minutes of daily activity can decrease your chances of developing COPD. Being active will help you feel better, move better, and sleep better.
Cardiovascular exercise is a great way to improve respiratory health if you are at a higher risk of developing COPD. Improving cardiovascular health can be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood, walking your dog, or going for a light jog several times a week. Regular exercise will improve stamina and strength, strengthen bones and muscles, increase self-confidence, and help you breathe easier with less effort.
If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of COPD, contact your doctor right away to receive care that will help you get ahead of COPD.
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