A State brief from the American Lung Association has released data showing Arkansas has the highest rates of COPD in the country and has recommendations on how to reduce the burden.

The disease known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is long-term, includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is progressive, and makes it hard to breathe, the brief said.

The ALA stated that the goal of the COPD State Briefs is to raise awareness for COPD and empower public health and healthcare professionals to take actionable steps to prevent the onset of illness, reduce health inequities, set goals for earlier diagnosis, and ensure clinical guidelines are used to manage and treat COPD.

A news release stated that Arkansas is one of 11 states with the highest COPD rates and highest burden in the country. The other states are Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.

“Unfortunately, here in Arkansas, we face a higher burden of COPD, but together we can work to help prevent COPD and support our community members living with the disease to live longer and more active lives,” said Laura Turner, senior manager of advocacy for Arkansas at the American Lung Association. “The new COPD State Briefs also examine key indicators for COPD in Arkansas, such as air quality, tobacco use, education, income level, and vaccination rate, which can help us determine where to focus our prevention efforts and help those most impacted by the disease.”

Nationally, approximately 5 percent of adults, or 12.5 million, people are living with COPD In Arkansas:

  • 223,174 of adults have been diagnosed with COPD;
  • The COPD prevalence rate is 9.6 percent;
  • 2,338 people die each year from COPD;
  • Annual cost of COPD treatment is $295 million; and
  • 202,540 days of work are lost each year due to COPD.

There is currently no cure for COPD, but the disease is treatable.

As November comes to a close, the American Lung Association is driving attention to its recently released COPD State Briefs, which include data about prevention, diagnosis, health outcomes, and treatment of the disease for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The Lung Association recommends the following actions to reduce the burden of COPD in Arkansas:

  • Use a validated COPD screening tool for people who may be at risk of COPD or reporting symptoms;
  • Confirm a COPD diagnosis using spirometry, especially in primary care;
  • Use evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation services;
  • Promote recommended vaccinations; and
  • Recommend pulmonary rehabilitation, COPD education, and a COPD Action Plan.

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