We may not notice or think about how important our lungs are until they stop working properly.
Breathing is an involuntary function bringing oxygen to our lungs that then circulates through our bloodstream. But for those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), each one of these crucial breaths can be a struggle.
In healthy lungs, air sacs are elastic and able to move air in and out. Air sacs of those with COPD, however, lose their elasticity, limiting the movement of air in and out of the lungs.
While there is no cure for COPD, Iredell Health System’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation program helps patients manage the disease and improve their overall wellbeing. Patients that complete the program successfully return to work and increase their activity.
“Our number one goal is to assist the patient to improve their quality of life and increase their abilities to perform activities of daily living,” said Director of Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Lisa Warren.
November is National COPD Awareness Month, providing the COPD community a time to come together to focus on increasing awareness of the disease.
COPD is an inflammatory disease, which includes chronic bronchitis occurring when airways are frequently inflamed and become scarred, and emphysema occurring when lungs are damaged over time.
Millions of Americans are unaware they are living with COPD. This lesser-known lung problem develops slowly, making it important for those with shortness of breath, persistent cough, chest tightness, or wheezing to see their physician who can perform a breathing test measuring airway function. Many of the symptoms of COPD are similar to asthma symptoms.
Being diagnosed with COPD can be distressing, but Iredell Pulmonary Rehab empowers people with the disease. A patient’s first visit to the pulmonary rehab program includes a six-minute walking test, a review of medical history, an explanation of the class structure, and a personalized treatment plan to meet their specific needs. The patient’s team includes an exercise physiologist, a respiratory therapist, and a registered nurse.
While cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD, the disease can also be caused by long-term exposure to other irritants such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust.
In addition to tobacco cessation and individualized exercise training, Iredell Pulmonary Rehab provides other services including nutritional counseling, education, energy-conserving techniques, and breathing strategies. COPD patients look forward to attending the pulmonary rehab program and praise Iredell Pulmonary Rehab for being more hands-on and personal than a public gym.
“This is a very encouraging atmosphere where they encourage you to succeed no matter what your effort,” said Carlton Moore, a COPD patient.
Iredell Pulmonary Rehab has not changed the treatment of its patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. To maintain the same standard of care, the department repositions its equipment to provide appropriate social distancing, practices mask-wearing, takes temperatures, thoroughly cleans equipment, and follows healthy hand washing.
Exercise is encouraged for patients with respiratory disease, and many COPD patients find Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehab’s Fit for Life program helpful after completing the pulmonary rehab program.
For more information about the pulmonary rehab program, call Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehab at 704-878-4558.
Photo: Carlton Moore, a COPD patient, participates in Iredell Health System’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation program.