The NEF’s mission is to improve the quality of life of patients with emphysema and their caregivers by providing and supporting educational, advocacy and research initiatives to the medical community and the general public. The NEF is dedicated to working to reduce the suffering and the toll emphysema is taking on innumerable sufferers in this country and abroad.
Emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are related lung conditions that are caused by many years of cigarette smoking (‘smoker’s lung’) and other factors.
An estimated 3.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with emphysema; 11.2 million U.S. adults were estimated to have COPD. The disease is estimated to kill more than 120,000 Americans each year. Smoking is the major cause, but with ever increasing air pollution and other environmental factors that negatively affect pulmonary patients, those numbers are on the rise.
In 1971, some concerned physicians and patients founded the National Emphysema Foundation (NEF). At that time, emphysema as a disease was not known to the public nor was there any national program to combat it. There was very little research or money allocated by the National Institutes of Health for the study of this disease in spite of the fact that there were over 15 million sufferers. There was no charitable foundation devoted exclusively to emphysema and COPD. It was the fourth leading cause of death, and now, it is the third.
Today the life and breath of more than thirty million Americans are threatened by emphysema. This disease progressively constricts the bronchial tubes and eventually destroys the air sacs. Yet this preventable killer disease is widely undiagnosed and untreated especially in its early stages when it is most responsive to therapy.