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Save Your Breath, America!

Prevent Emphysema Now!

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Save Your Breath, America!

Prevent Emphysema Now!

Information for Patients Who May Be Developing Emphysema or Chronic Bronchitis

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.
Dennis Doherty, M.D.
logo National Lung Health Education Program


what is your fev 1, fev 6The National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP) healthcare initiative is designed to identify and to treat patients in the early stages of emphysema and related chronic bronchitis. Together, emphysema and chronic bronchitis are known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Approximately 120,000 Americans die of COPD each year! In 2000, more women than men died of COPD. COPD is now the fourth most common cause of death in the U.S.A. It is the only disease among the top five killers in America that continues to rise in the number of annual sick days and deaths.

By contrast, great progress has been made in reducing the number of people who become sick or who die from major diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, and many cancers, largely because of early identification and treatment programs.

The NLHEP initiative is directed to both primary care physicians and to patients. Many societies and governmental agencies within the United States sponsor the NLHEP. Financial support for the NLHEP comes from unrestricted grants from the pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries. The NLHEP enjoys a partnership with the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), a professional organization representing 130,000 respiratory care professionals.

Together, the NLHEP and the AARC are attacking COPD, a common disease which results in suffering and early death. Please learn how you can work with your doctor and help prevent emphysema! We aim to reduce the social and the economic impact of this important problem. We believe that through education to the public by professional and governmental agencies, the problem of COPD can finally be prevented and solved. Please visit our web sites (nlhep.org, aarc.org, and nepp.org) for current information.

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.
Dennis E. Doherty, M.D.
National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)

Save Your Breath, America!

This booklet is dedicated to people who live and breathe and to those who either have or may develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This group of diseases, often known simply as “COPD,” includes asthmatic bronchitis, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. COPD affects an estimated 32 million Americans, but has only been “diagnosed” in about half of those who actually have COPD, largely due to a lack of awareness. In 2000, for the first time, more women than men have died of COPD.

“Save Your Breath, America!” is a companion to a booklet written for physicians, “Prevent Emphysema Now.” It provides the most current information in lay terms on the causes and treatment of asthmatic bronchitis, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Based upon 30 years of study of these closely-related diseases, it is offered as advice for persons who:

  • Smoke now or who have smoked in the past
  • Have a long-term cough, excess mucus, shortness of breath, or wheeze
  • Have family members with COPD

diagram of lung from trachea to aveoliRemember that the symptoms of COPD, including emphysema, may not show up for 30 or more years after starting smoking. This gives you and your doctor a good chance to have breathing tests to determine if a breathing problem is present or will likely be present in the future. You may need treatment to stop this disease before it gets serious enough to cause symptoms that affect your lifestyle. If you notice a change in your ability to breathe as you perform ordinary daily routines, don’t delay. See your doctor. A major part of this booklet is devoted to the steps you can take to save your breath and prevent emphysema.

Breathing is essential for life. Your body needs the oxygen in the air you breathe to create the energy that keeps you alive. Your respiratory system carries the oxygen to your lungs, where it enters your bloodstream to travel throughout your body. The bloodstream also carries the “used” air, which is mostly carbon dioxide, back to your lungs so that you can breathe it out.