For those of you that know me, you're probably aware that I recently lost my mother in December 2017. She passed away at the young age of 60 after a long and devastating battle with emphysema, a type of COPD. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and affects an estimated 15.5 million diagnosed individuals, in addition to millions more who are undiagnosed. Nationwide, the cost of COPD is between $40-70 billion including healthcare services, indirect costs through loss of productivity, and the deterioration of personal health.
Unfortunately, it was very difficult to reduce the progression of my mother's illness due to lack of access to evidence-based treatments, such as pulmonary rehab. This is a very common barrier for individuals living with COPD, as there is a general lack of awareness within both the medical and research community about what treatments work best for whom (i.e. individualized care), as well as a lack of awareness about how to effectively implement and increase accessibility to existing evidence-based treatments. For those treatments that we have preliminary evidence on (e.g. pulmonary rehabilitation), providers are very few and far between, and insurance coverage is quite limited. Thus, patients often manage their COPD via primary care doctors, who typically have limited specialities and expertise to treat COPD. While this can help with symptom management, patients require better tools and education to preserve lung function and reduce progression of the disease.
The COPD Foundation was established to speed innovations to make treatments more effective, accessible, undertake initiatives that result in expanded services for COPD patients, and improve the lives of patients with COPD through research and education. With my birthday on April 24th, my mom's birthday on May 7th, and Mother's Day on May 13th, I hope you will join me in paying tribute to my beautiful mother by making a contribution to the COPD Foundation. Every little bit counts and will help us fulfill our mission.