What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

COPD is a is a common respiratory condition, that is preventable and treatable, in which patient has persistent respiratory symptoms due to structural damage to the bronchial tubes, or airways, and the air sacs in the lungs.

How many people have COPD in the US and Nevada?

More than 15 million people have COPD in the United States. But an additional 12 million people have COPD and do not know it and undiagnosed. The CDC reports that more than 150,000 people die every year from COPD. It is the 4th leading cause of death in the US as well as the 4th leading cause of disability. Approximately 185,000 people in Nevada are diagnosed and suffer from COPD.

What are the risk factors?

  • Exposure to air pollution
  • Breathing secondhand smoke
  • Working with chemicals, dust and fumes
  • A genetic condition called Alpha-1 deficiency
  • A history of childhood respiratory infection
  • COPD is more common in women – about 56 percent of cases.
  • COPD includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive asthma.

The symptoms according to the American Lung Association:

  • Chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath while doing everyday activities (dyspnea)
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
  • Fatigue
  • Producing a lot of mucus (also called phlegm or sputum)
  • Wheezing

How much of a role does smoking play into COPD?

“Roughly 80 percent of all COPD cases are attributed to smoking,” said Dr. Suresh Tawney, Pulmonary Physician, Intermountain Healthcare COPD Clinic. “The remaining are environmental factors or genetically from your family.”

The damage to the bronchial tubes and air sacs usually caused by significant exposure to noxious particles, such as in smoking, or gases.

What can people do now to avoid getting COPD?

The American Lung Association gives five steps to reduce your risk:

  • If you smoke, it is a smart and healthy choice to quit. Seek help from family and experts to learn how to quit. It is never too late.
  • If you don’t smoke, then don’t start.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke around you. This includes making your home smoke-free.
  • Be aware of the dangers with chemicals, dust and fumes at home and at work.
  • Work with your community to help fight for clean air.

The Intermountain COPD Clinic focuses currently on Medicare patients. Intermountain Healthcare uses a team to treat you at in the COPD Clinic,” Said Dr. Tawney. The team includes the physician, case manager, respiratory therapists, among others.

The COPD Clinic team helps with the following:

  • Medication management
  • Educate disease process
  • Signs and symptoms and how-to self-monitor and manage their chronic condition
  • Provide symptom management and acute symptom triage via direct access to clinic and/or remote patient monitoring
  • Work with help with self-care success
  • Social determinants of health
  • Transition of care coordination during and after hospitalization

To learn more about COPD, the COPD Clinic and Intermountain, visit intermountainhealthcare.org/Nevada.