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AARC Renews Commitment to COPD Awareness

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December 22, 2010

The AARC renewed its commitment to raise awareness and promote early detection of COPD in the wake of news from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that it is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

The report was issued last week.

Stroke dropped to the fourth leading cause of death, moving chronic lower respiratory diseases, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, into the third position. Heart disease and cancer remain the number 1 and 2 causes. Of the top three COPD is the only disease that is increasing in prevalence rather than decreasing.

“This news just reinvigorates our efforts to educate the public about this largely preventable cause of death,” says Karen Stewart, AARC President. “As respiratory therapists, we want to continue to push for early detection programs and then to educate COPD patients that it is possible to help them decrease and control symptoms.”  

The number of Americans with COPD is estimated at 24 million, but only half of them have been diagnosed with the disease. There is one death every four minutes, more than breast cancer and diabetes combined.

“It is disappointing that we have not made more progress, but this unfortunate shift in prevalence for lung disease may help focus more attention and resources on COPD,” said Stewart.

The AARC will continue to publish information on its patient education site,, as well as participate in other COPD awareness activities. A new booklet developed for patients on smoking cessation was recently released by the AARC, and is available to respiratory therapists as another tool to teach smoking cessation techniques to patients.