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Allegheny Health Network Marks National COPD Day with Several Awareness Events

Monday, November 12, 2018

Respiratory Therapists to Offer Free Pulmonary Function Tests On-site

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (November 12, 2018) – With the continued goal of increasing public awareness and understanding of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – better known as COPD – Allegheny Health Network (AHN), a Highmark Health company, is hosting a series of events across the system to mark National COPD Day. 

This Wednesday, November 14 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., numerous AHN facilities will offer access to healthcare professionals who will be able to discuss a range of COPD-related topics, such as: proper diet, use of inhalers, supportive care, breathing techniques, pulmonary rehabilitation, smoking cessation, sleep disorders, home care, and medical equipment.  Additionally, respiratory therapists will be on-site to offer free pulmonary function tests, a non-invasive exam that shows how well a person’s lungs are working.  

AHN facilities hosting COPD awareness events include: 

•    Allegheny General Hospital (2nd-floor Magovern Conference Center)
•    Allegheny Valley Hospital (Charles Young Conference Center)
•    Canonsburg Hospital (McNary Conference Room A)
•    Forbes Hospital (Learning Center 2 & 3)
•    Jefferson Hospital (2nd-floor Balcony)
•    Saint Vincent Hospital (Dining Conference Rooms 2 & 3)
•    West Penn Hospital (Wintergarden Conference Center)
•    Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion (2nd-floor Lobby)

A physician speaker at each facility will prevent an overview of COPD from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.

“COPD symptoms are easily confused with the common cold or asthma,” said Anil Singh, MD, MPH, a pulmonologist and critical care physician who is director of AHN’s Breathing Disorders Center at the Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion. “Awareness is crucial. While COPD is a chronic, progressive disease that cannot be cured, with the right diagnosis it can be treated and managed.”

COPD is one of the few diseases that is actually becoming more prevalent every year, and in recent years it has moved past stroke to become the third-leading health-related cause of death in the United States. Yet public awareness and understanding of COPD remains limited. Almost 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, but the actual numbers are believed to be much higher. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC), more than 50 percent of adults with low pulmonary function were unaware they had COPD.

The most common symptoms of COPD are breathlessness, or a need for air; excessive sputum production; and a chronic cough. While tobacco smoke is the key factor in the development and progression of COPD, the disease is not just a “smoker’s cough.” Rather, it is an under-diagnosed, life-threatening lung disease.

According to Dr. Singh, once the disease has progressed to the point where a person has developed emphysema, the process is irreversible and the damage is done. But stopping smoking can halt the disease’s progression.

The American Lung Association, COPD Foundation, Breathe PA, and Tobacco Free Allegheny are helping to support AHN’s National COPD Day awareness activities.