2 posts tagged “quitting smoking”

Are Your Lungs Trying to Tell You Something?

Posted November 28th, 2011 by

Chronic coughing and wheezing.  Frequent shortness of breath.  Struggling for air.  These are some of the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which affects 24 million Americans (or approximately one in five adults over the age of 45).  As many as half of them don’t realize they have COPD, however, as many people mistake their slowly worsening symptoms as normal aging or a lack of fitness.

November is National COPD Awareness Month, and the COPD Learn More Breathe Better® campaign, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, aims to raise awareness about this under-diagnosed condition.  With a growing prevalence in the US, COPD – which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis – is now the third leading cause of death in the US as well as a significant cause of long-term disability.

While COPD can have environmental or genetic risk factors that lead to its development in non-smokers, the disease most often occurs in people age 40 and over with a history of smoking (either current or former smokers).  Smoking is the most common cause of COPD, accounting for as many as 9 out of 10 COPD-related deaths.  Thus, quitting smoking now can reduce your risk.  (Worried about your ability to quit?  Read our recent Great American Smokeout blog for motivation, resources and support.)

A Snapshot of the COPD Community at PatientsLikeMe

If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, connecting with other patients like you can help you learn how to live better with the condition.  331 patients report COPD at PatientsLikeMe, with 44 listing it as their primary condition.  Some of the common treatments they report include Budesonide, Fluticasone, Prednisone and Oxygen Therapy.  (Click on each name to see the treatment evaluations submitted by our patients, who share their experiences with effectiveness, side effects, cost and more.)

Not sure if your breathing problems might be COPD?  See your doctor for a simple breathing test known as spirometry.  The earlier you get diagnosed and treated, the sooner you can begin to breathe a little easier.


How’s Your HDL and LDL?

Posted September 28th, 2011 by

September is National Cholesterol Education Month, which means it’s a good time to find out your total cholesterol levels as well as your HDL (“good” cholesterol) and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels. Have you had them checked in the last five years?

Cholesterol Levels Can Be Tested by Having Blood Work Done at Your Doctor's Office

More than 102 million Americans have a total cholesterol level at or above 200 mg/dL, which is beyond healthy levels, and more than 35 million of those individuals have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, which puts them at high risk of heart disease. That’s a major concern given that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Fortunately, high cholesterol can be lowered with lifestyle changes – including losing weight, eating healthier, exercising and quitting smoking – as well as medication. But to start turning things around, you have to know there’s a problem. Even children and adolescents can have high cholesterol, especially if they are overweight.

Here at PatientsLikeMe, 335 patients report hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) while 235 patients report hyperlipidemia (high lipids in the blood, including cholesterol and triglycerides.) Across both conditions, some of the top reported medications include Simvastatin, Atorvastatin, Pravastatin and Rosovastatin.

If you’re unsure of your cholesterol levels, talk to your doctor at your next visit. And if you’re already aware that your levels are high, reach out to other patients like you today at PatientsLikeMe. Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy, but it’s easier when you have a community to lean on for support, answers and advice.