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November is COPD Awareness Month

November is COPD awareness month.   COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a generic term for a group of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, emphysema, and bronchiectasis.   Symptoms of COPD distress include progressively shallow breathing or breathlessness, chronic coughing, or wheezing.  The National Heart, Lungs and Blood Institute estimates that 12 million adults have COPD and another 12 million may be undiagnosed.   COPD affects more women than men, killing more women in 2006 than breast cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.  Worldwide, affected populations are estimated at 210 million by the WHO.

Sleep Apnea can be a comorbidity of COPD and great deals of patients with COPD are also patients of CPAP Therapy to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). 

Recently, had the chance to interview Bill Clark, Director of Outreach Programs for the COPD Foundation in Washington DC.  We focused on the COPD Foundation’s efforts as well as how CPAP Therapy is used by COPD patients.


What is the primary purpose of the COPD Foundation?

The mission of the COPD Foundation is to develop and support programs which improve the quality of life of COPD patients.  The organization focuses its efforts not only toward the 12 million Americans who have already been diagnosed with COPD, but also toward identifying the estimated 12 million who have not yet been diagnosed or who have been misdiagnosed, people whose lives are impacted by COPD through research, education, early diagnosis and enhanced therapy.

In a few short years, the COPD Foundation has authored a wealth of educational material, launched three publications, and instituted screenings and spirometry testing across the country. The Foundation also introduced the COPD shuttle as a major educational tool, while also participating in countless patient and professional forums. The organization’s advocacy program has greatly expanded with the development of Operation 435 and the establishment of the COPD Coalition.

COPD WebsiteHow is the COPD Foundation spreading awareness this month?  Any special events?

The COPD Foundation will be hosting a webinar geared towards the COPD patient on November 16, 2011 at 12:00 noon EST.  The webinar will feature myself, Dr. Byron Thomashow and John Walsh speaking on the topic COPD Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. For more information on the webinar and how to participate please go to our website or call our information line at 866-731-2673. Aside from the webinar, COPD Foundation staff will be participating in patient venues across the country. COPD Month is also Alpha-1 Awareness Month! Alpha-1 is a genetic form of COPD. To get information on events and alpha please visit the Alpha-1 website at

Outreach is very important for your foundation. Can you briefly explain the COPD Information Line?

The C.O.P.D. Information line, which can be reached by calling (866) 316-2673, is staffed by trained associates. These individuals have COPD or are caregivers, and they do everything from locating pulmonary rehabilitation facilities, support groups and COPD events across the country to answering questions about COPD and clinical trials. They also field subscription requests for COPD Digest and packages of educational information. Most of our initial patient contacts come through our C.O.P.D. Information Line and our Web site, usually in the form of a request for information or educational materials. The Information Line is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern. I am proud to say that it was the first patient line staffed by patients. Who better to answer questions about COPD than people impacted by it?


Is supplemental oxygen used with CPAP for COPD treatment?

Sleep apnea is a common co-morbidity with COPD and many COPD patients are prescribed treatment using either a CPAP or BI-PAP.  Often with supplemental oxygen patients, they utilize both therapies simultaneously. I myself use the combination therapy at night! Using a simple connecter, it is very easy to plug your concentrator into the CPAP tubing.


As a CPAP provider, how can we better help the COPD community? Education? Different supplies? More accessories?

As a provider it is important to provide all CPAP patients with information on COPD. While they may not be diagnosed with COPD, the disease is now the third leading cause of death and can occur at about any age. Early diagnosis provides far better outcomes, and in many cases the progression of the disease can be slowed. I think it is important for any CPAP supplier to ask if the client has ever been tested, and inquire as to whether or not they require supplemental oxygen. Many COPD patients are first prescribed oxygen for night time use . As for accessories, I would like to see a valve installed on the inlet for plugging in supplemental oxygen. Most CPAP manufacturers require that the oxygen only be supplied after the CPAP is turned on. When your concentrator or oxygen source is across the room, this can get awkward to do by yourself. Having a shut off valve would make the process far easier.


COPD Big Fat Reference GuideHow can our customers and followers learn more about COPD?

Anyone interested in learning more about COPD should call our Information line at 866-316-2673 or visit our website at We have a new education piece we call the Big Fat Reference Guide, which is a 400 page book geared towards the patient. It can be downloaded for free at


Bill, we thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. is spreading the word about the great service that the COPD foundation is performing.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank The CPAP People for their extraordinary service and product knowledge, as well as their desire to educate their clients.


Learn more about COPD:


Contact the COPD Foundation:

COPD Foundation

20 F Street NW
STE 200-A
Washington, DC 20001

Phone: 1-866-731-COPD

Patient Info Line: 1-866-316-2673


Connect with the COPD Foundation and

Twitter:  @COPDFoundation / @TheCPAPPeople


Another resource is the library of COPD Information at HealthLine.  Healthline provides a very comprehensive overview of COPD as a critical starting point for individuals and/or their loved ones.




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