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DRIVE4COPD Unveils COPD Monument to Travel the Country

DRIVE4COPD, a multiyear public health initiative that aims to help people identify symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and take action, recently unveiled 24M: The DRIVE4COPD Monument, which will travel the country after its unveiling in New York.

The monument is a visual representation of the impact COPD has in the United States, with 24 large-scale pinwheels—the DRIVE4COPD symbol—to represent the 24 million Americans who may be living with COPD. Designed by artist and sculptor Michael Kalish, the monument reaches 14 feet high and spans half a football field.

“I travel the country collecting materials for my work, and many of the people I see on a daily basis are affected by COPD or are at risk for the disease,” said Kalish in a recent press release issued by DRIVE4COPD. “COPD affects people from all walks of life, and this is my opportunity to give them a voice.”

Kalish uses discarded everyday items such as car tires, boxing speed bags and recycled license plates to create his unique and highly sought-after works of art. A total of 2,400 license plates from all 50 states were used to construct the monument’s pinwheels, with the number of license plates reflecting the percentage of that state’s population affected by COPD. Each pinwheel is secured to a base shaped like one or more states, which together form the map of the United States. The monument also includes license plates from DRIVE4COPD spokespeople, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and Grammy award-winning country music artist Patty Loveless, who have both lost loved ones to COPD.

Following its unveiling in New York, the monument will travel to those states with the highest prevalence and population of COPD, including Texas, Florida and California. The organization hopes that the monument will increase disease awareness and motivate people to recognize their risk. Visitors of 24M can follow a self-guide tour through the monument to learn about its creation, the impact of COPD and the DRIVE4COPD campaign.

The monument will be on display in Glendale, Calif., from December 9 to 18, 2011.

For more information about 24M and the DRIVE4COPD campaign, visit drive4copd.com.

COPD: The Basics

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third-leading cause of death in the United States and one of the most common lung diseases in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 210 million people across the world are currently suffering from COPD. That estimate includes nearly 12 million Americans living with COPD, while another 12 million may be left undiagnosed.

COPD is a combination of diseases, with most patients suffering from both chronic bronchitis and emphysema, making breathing more and more difficult for them. That is because emphysema destroys the air sacs in the lungs over time, reducing the surface area of the lungs and the amount of oxygen that enters the bloodstream. Further, chronic bronchitis leaves patients with inflamed bronchial tubes and a long-term cough with mucus.

Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, coughing with or without mucus, respiratory infections, tightness of the chest, wheezing and trouble catching one’s breath. However, most COPD patients do not experience symptoms from the disease until their lungs have been severely damaged, making it important for those people who are at risk for the disease to be screened regularly. Spirometry is the most commonly used test for diagnosing COPD, while X-rays, CT scans and lab tests can also be used.

While smoking is the main cause of COPD, inhaling irritants such as chemicals, dust and other fumes are also risk factors. COPD can also affect those who have never smoked or had any contact with harmful pollutants, as there is a genetic risk factor for developing emphysema. The most commonly known genetic risk factor for emphysema is called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency, which leaves patients with little to no AAT protein in the bloodstream. This deficiency leaves room for white blood cells to damage the lungs. While AAT deficiency seems to be the main cause of COPD among nonsmokers, researchers believe that there are other genetic factors that may increase the risk of developing the disease.

While currently there is no cure for COPD, there are treatment options to relieve symptoms and keep the disease from progressing. These include medications such as inhalers and steroids, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and surgery. There are also steps that COPD patients can take on their own to improve their symptoms, including:

  • Practicing controlled breathing and relaxation exercises
  • Exercising regularly to strengthen respiratory muscles
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water
  • Avoiding crowds and cold air
  • Getting vaccinated for respiratory infections
  • Quitting smoking and avoiding places where smoking is permitted

While COPD cannot be cured, it can be prevented by avoiding smoking and by breathing clean, fresh air to keep lungs healthy.

Click Here to Access More Information About COPD From dailyRx.

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