The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Presents

The COPD National Action Plan

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is the third leading cause of death in the United States, affecting 16 million Americans and millions more who do not know they have it. COPD can stifle a person’s ability to breathe, lead to long- term disability, and dramatically affect his or her quality of life. Women are the majority, accounting for 56 percent of those with COPD. Current smokers make up 38 percent; 37 percent are former smokers and 25 percent of those affected with COPD are not associated with direct cigarette smoking.

The COPD National Action Plan is the first-ever blueprint for a unified fight against the disease. Developed at the request of Congress with input from the COPD community, it provides a comprehensive frame- work for action by those affected by the disease and those who care about reducing its burden.

The National Action Plan goals encompass:

  1. Empower people with COPD, their families and caregivers to recognize and reduce the burden of COPD.

For people with COPD, awareness often does not come until well after they have been affected by it. The plan is to increase public awareness of the risk factors and symptoms of COPD so that earlier diagnosis becomes the norm.

As an example, we can all organize and support local events and activities at hospitals, during community events and as part of workplace wellness programs while asking the local media to cover the events.

      2. Improve the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and management of COPD by  improving  the  quality           of  care delivered by all health care providers.

Every health care professional in the United States is in a position to address the needs of the millions of people at risk for or living with COPD. One important aspect discussed in the Action Plan is the need to develop and encourage the use of a written COPD management plan which can be customized with input from your health care providers. This plan should include the following:

  • Your daily treatments, such as which medicines to take, when and why to take them;
  • How to control COPD long term;
  • How to handle worsening COPD or exacerbations;
  • When window to use oxygen therapy and physical therapy;
  • The importance of taking your medication(s) daily; and
  • What you could expect from optimal therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Also to be included should be:
  • An explanation about when to call a health care professional or go to an emergency room;
  • How to recognize the impact of the other conditions you have (comorbidities), like lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and depression/anxiety; and
  • How to treat and manage those comorbidities. The plan should list resources for additional information or assistance, including referrals to support services including stop smoking programs.

     3. Collect, analyze, report and distribute COPD-related public health data that drive change and track             progress.

Electronic health records have enabled professionals to store valuable information about you and your condition. When you fill out registry information that is stored in a secure database and a new medication or treatment becomes available that may be of great benefit to you, your stored information will allow you to be identified quickly. It also allows researchers to analyze thou- sands of records to identify trends. People can then be monitored and treated before they actually have a complication.

      4. Increase and sustain research to better understand how COPD develops, the  diagnosis,                           treatment,  management of COPD, and how to prevent COPD.

The National Institute of Health wants to encourage the development of new, highly sensitive and rapid diagnostics tools. They would like to develop and test models for detecting COPD that can be adapted and used in different health care settings and with diverse populations. These models will help identify and reach people at risk for COPD, including nonsmokers and those with a family history of genetic forms of emphysema.

      5. Translate national policy, educational, and program recommendations into research and public                 health care actions.

We need to develop and implement COPD quality measures into our national care delivery. Effective prevention strategies that address the fact that the vast majority of COPD deaths are due to smoking are needed now!

This Action Plan belongs to the entire COPD community. While various stake- holders may be equipped with different levels of resources because of where they work and the organizations and people they serve, all have at least some capacity to contribute to its successful implementation. From health care providers and federal partners to advocacy groups and people with COPD, everybody can and must play a role in supporting and moving this important plan forward.

The entire 60-page report is available at for your viewing.