Battling COPD – National Action Plan Aims to Reduce Burden of This Killer

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), along with federal and non-federal partners, recently released the first-ever COPD National Action Plan, a detailed, patient-centered road map for addressing one of the most urgent health concerns facing Americans, particularly older people. The plan was released at the American Thoracic Society International Conference meeting in Washington, D.C.
The third-leading cause of death in the U.S., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, affects 16 million Americans diagnosed with the disease and millions more who likely do not know they have it. The disease, which costs Americans more than $32 billion a year, can stifle a person’s ability to breathe, lead to long-term disability, and significantly affect quality of life.
This forward-looking plan — developed with the COPD community nationwide and at the request of Congress — offers a unified, coordinated approach to ending the COPD scourge by identifying the specific work that doctors, educators, researchers, federal agencies, patients, advocates, and the biomedical industry can do to make a difference.
“This plan represents a new understanding of what it takes, at every level, to minimize the burden of COPD,” said Dr. Gary Gibbons, director of NHLBI. “Through thoughtful collaboration with federal agencies, patients, advocates, and researchers, we will help the millions who continue to endure this debilitating disease.”
While COPD is not curable, it is often preventable and highly treatable, and early diagnosis can lead to improved outcomes. The newly released action plan seeks to build on what the health and scientific communities already know by focusing on five goals:
• Empower patients, their families, and caregivers to recognize and reduce the burden of COPD;
• Equip healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care to people with COPD;
• Collect, analyze, report, and disseminate COPD data;
• Increase and sustain COPD research; and
• Turn COPD recommendations into research and public healthcare actions.
To produce the plan, NHLBI announced and organized workshops and convened stakeholders of the COPD community, including patients and their families, healthcare providers, academics, and industry representatives, for a national COPD Town Hall. The comments shared at the COPD Town Hall directly informed the action plan, and engagement of the community remained integral to the plan as its five goals were refined.  Last October, NHLBI invited the public to review and comment on the draft action plan and used that feedback to finalize the plan.
“The enthusiasm of members from the COPD community in sharing its insights has been invaluable throughout this process,” said Dr. James Kiley, director of NHLBI’s Division of Lung Diseases. “The different perspectives brought by those who live these issues every day contributed to making this a clear, coordinated way forward for all stakeholders.  We look forward to working together to improve the  lives of those living with COPD.”
The COPD National Action Plan provides a cohesive tool for health professionals and advocates to raise awareness about COPD and support activities that can change the trajectory of the disease. To learn more about the COPD National Action Plan and how to get involved, visit copd.nih.gov.