Difficulty breathing can be a sign of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that damages the lungs over time and can lead to illness and even death. Early detection can help to minimize damage from COPD. Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) will offer free screenings for COPD at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 15, in the medical center’s Auxiliary Conference Room.
The term COPD refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and make it increasingly difficult to breathe. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two main conditions associated with COPD. Complications of COPD can include respiratory infections, heart disease, high blood pressure and depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 125,000 deaths per year result from COPD.
“Because symptoms of COPD often do not appear until significant lung damage has occurred, early detection is very important. This is possible by understanding the risk factors and being screened if you are at increased risk,” said Christy Wright, director of the medical center’s respiratory care department.
Risk factors for COPD include current or previous tobacco use, exposure to air pollutants, respiratory infections and genetic factors, including Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD), a genetic form of lung disease that can only be detected through laboratory testing.
Among the free screenings to be offered on December 15 is the Alpha-1 test, which uses a finger-stick blood sample to screen for AATD. Fasting is not required before the screening. Other screening tests will include pulse oximetry, used to measure the body’s oxygen saturation, and spirometry, a simple breathing test. Dr. Maura Lipp, a pulmonologist on the MRMC medical staff, will present a brief overview of COPD at 10 a.m. with the screenings immediately following.
“You are encouraged to be screened if you smoke, find yourself short of breath after simple activities, have a family history of COPD or have had long-term exposure to wood smoke, chemicals and second-hand smoke,” said Dr. Lipp.
The screenings are free and open to the public. To learn more, call 931.380.4029.
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