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Rehab Insights is a weekly blog written by Burke Rehabilitation professionals to offer practical information for patients, families and the community. Its goal is to educate the reader on relevant topics in rehabilitation, general health and wellness.

You’ve Been Told That You Have COPD. Now What Do You Do?

May 1, 2013
Richard Novitch, M.D.

Over the coming months, I will be using this blog to talk about living with COPD and steps that a person with this diagnosis can take to maximize their quality of life. If you have any questions or comments, please post them via the “Ask us a question” link to the right or email I will do my best to answer them or give a response.

COPD is the third most common group of illnesses in the United States and it is the only illness whose frequency is increasing. COPD includes a bunch of diagnoses that include chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and bronchiectasis. Recent studies show that 26 million Americans, or 8.4% of the U.S. population, have COPD. So you are not alone.

Learn about the other half of our cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program, by watching the video. Watch the video to learn about the other half of Burke Rehab's cardiopulmonary rehab program: cardiac rehab.

The first thoughts that come to mind when you are told you have COPD are usually quite negative.  This is understandable.  But COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The first word is chronic which means a long time.  So your job is to do whatever you can do to live the best life possible with the most confidence. And the first step you can take to living a healthier life is to quit smoking.

Of all the COPD cases, 95 percent are related to cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking causes a type of lung damage that mimics the natural aging process of the lung. Therefore, if you smoke, you may experience the symptoms of COPD even if you gave up cigarettes a long time ago. That being said, the most important thing you can do when diagnosed with lung disease is to give up smoking as soon as possible.

Stopping smoking is much more powerful than any treatment a doctor can offer you.

When your lung is damaged, you need as much of your normal/healthy lung as possible so even just one more cigarette is detrimental. In addition, smoking is actually worse for your heart than your lung, and most patients with COPD have both heart and lung problems.

My message to you is to stop smoking and arm yourself with knowledge and a plan so you can live the best life possible.

—Richard Novitch, M.D.
Director, Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program

Learn about Burke’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program.

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Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation and other health care topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke staff cannot comment on individual medical cases or give medical advice.

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