Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic lung disease that affects about 24 million Americans, according to the COPD Foundation. It is the fourth leading cause of death, after cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Advocates for the disease note, however, that COPD is entirely preventable. By avoiding places with tobacco smoke and by not smoking, the condition can be largely prevented. As a result, the message of this year’s World COPD Day emphasizes the urgent need for COPD patients to quit smoking now.
“Every day, week, month and year you go without smoking, your health improves,” said Paula Snowden, Quitline’s chief executive in a press release.
“Stopping smoking is the only action a person with COPD can take to extend their life (…) all other actions will only offer a better quality of life — that is why it is so important that people stop smoking sooner rather than later,” noted Dr. Kyle Perrin, director of the Asthma Foundation.
The symptoms associated with the disease include cough, shortness of breath, and phlegm. Until disease symptoms become serious, people tend to ignore them. Experts say that whether people have a mild or severe case of the disease, it is always possible to improve lung health. It is never too late to quit smoking and improve breathing.
“When you quit, your body starts to repair itself straightaway, in just eight hours your heart rate slows down to normal and your blood pressure goes down. In just three to five days your sense of smell and taste begins to improve,” said Dr. Snowden.
The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) is the World COPD Day organizer, which aims to raise worldwide awareness of COPD through activities and events. This year’s theme is It’s not too late.
The Asthma Foundation encourages people with coughing and breathing problems to visit their doctor and be tested for COPD. The early detection of the disease can slow its progression and improve patients’ quality of life.