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THN Educates on COPD: Signs, symptoms and treatment

Fox8 News House Calls, October 26, 2015

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States.  It is estimated that 15 million people in the country are currently diagnosed with COPD, with an additional 15 million estimated to be in the beginning stages of the disease and not yet diagnosed.  November is National COPD Awareness Month and the official color for COPD is orange, which is also the color that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index uses to represent days with unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups, including people with lung disease.

COPD is a preventable and treatable disease and is characterized by persistent, progressive airflow limitation often associated with chronic inflammatory response.  The main symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath and chronic coughing—with or without mucous.  It is important to know that COPD can only be diagnosed with a spirometry test. Like many other diseases, early detection is key.  The earlier the stage in which COPD is diagnosed and treated, the easier it is to manage and increase quality of life for the patient.  Cone Health has established a program called COPD Gold, where high risk patients, those having COPD and three or more admissions to the hospital in six months, are identified and given proper care management.  Patients are given access to a team of healthcare providers designed specifically for COPD care, including a pulmonary specialist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, case management, social work, dietician, respiratory therapist, and others.

Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to improve the quality of life for COPD patients.  It is important for patients to discuss their individualized treatment plan with their doctor, which may involve a combination of inhaler medicines, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and proper immunizations.  Cone Health has an exceptional network of pulmonologists and related healthcare providers dedicated to educating, treating and improving the quality of life for individuals with COPD throughout the community.

Spokesperson Background:

Elvin Perkins III is a chronic disease project manager for Triad Healthcare Network, an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) affiliated with Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C. He is responsible for population health quality initiatives within the ACO and Cone Health system. Most recently, he has managed an organizational initiative to improve quality of life in the Cone Health patient population. Elvin is a graduate of Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., and holds a Master of Business Administration from High Point University in High Point, N.C. Elvin also has his Six Sigma Black Belt certification from North Carolina State University.