Tune Into Your Breathing and Health on World COPD Day
November 15th is World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day . COPD is an all-too-common lung disease (sometimes referred to as emphysema or chronic bronchitis) that causes restricted airflow and makes breathing difficult .
The theme of this year’s COPD Day is Breathing is Life – Act Earlier. Observers are encouraged to understand the importance of early lung health, diagnosis, and interventions .
So, to help mitigate COPD from its start, we’re explaining its symptoms, early signs to look out for, and how to get yourself tested. We’ll also be sharing some success stories from COPD patients who have vastly improved their quality of life by entrusting Signallamp with their care.
What is COPD and What Causes It?
COPD is a lung disease that usually begins to develop about midway through a patient’s life. It can lead to extreme breathing issues that can cause hospitalization and even death. While anyone can develop COPD, it’s most prevalent in people with a history of: 
- Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure
- Occupational dust, fume, and chemical inhalation
- Living in highly polluted environments with poor air quality
- Stunted development in utero or at a young age
- Childhood asthma
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a rare genetic condition that causes COPD abnormally early in life
While many factors contribute to COPD, in developed nations such as America, one heavy hitter outweighs all the others: smoking. In wealthy countries, over 70% of COPD cases can be attributed to tobacco use . So, like many adverse health conditions, avoiding smoking is your best bet for steering clear of COPD.
What Are the Symptoms and Signs of COPD?
COPD can be difficult to diagnose at an early stage because it can mimic more common conditions such as colds. Furthermore, many simply write off the symptoms of COPD as the effects of aging . Nonetheless, if you’re experiencing any of the following, it may be an early warning sign of COPD: 
- Shortness of breath
- Consistent coughing, especially when it brings up phlegm
- Chest tightness
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Persistent lung infections, such as acute bronchitis or pneumonia
Generally, these early warning signs are the same symptoms patients experience as COPD develops—but they usually grow more serious with time. Furthermore, individuals with COPD are also at a greater risk of developing: 
- Lung cancer
- Heart problems
- Weak muscles
- Brittle bones
Unfortunately, there are no known cures for COPD and it’s among the leading causes of illness-related deaths worldwide . However, there are ways of assessing, monitoring, and treating COPD so that patients can live happy, fulfilled lives.
How To Assess and Treat COPD
Individuals experiencing the symptoms of COPD should consult their healthcare provider and seek out a spirometry test. This medical assessment tests your lungs’ capabilities by measuring how much air they can take in and push out and how long it takes for them to do so .
If you’re diagnosed with COPD, doctors may recommend a regimen of both lifestyle and medical changes. Some of the most common prescriptions for mitigating COPD include: 
- Quitting smoking
- Moving to a less polluted environment
- Getting vaccinated against other conditions that can exacerbate COPD
- Taking medicines, such as antibiotics, steroids and inhalers
- Undergoing oxygen therapy or pulmonary rehabilitation through breathing exercises
- Surgery, in more severe scenarios
Perhaps the most effective treatment for COPD, however, is persistent monitoring and close collaboration with a healthcare professional.
We’ve previously covered how careful oversight of COPD patients through programs such as Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) can vastly improve quality of life and decrease readmission. Here, however, we’d like to share some real success stories from actual patients using our Chronic Care Management (CCM) program to handle their COPD.
COPD Success Stories from Signallamp
Signallamp Health provides diligent and accessible CCM for patients dealing with COPD and a myriad of other conditions. CCM can reduce COPD readmission by up to 56% and helps patients understand their conditions better—in turn, leading to more positive attitudes and outlooks .
Below are the experiences of such patients who’ve had their lives changed by Signallamp’s CCM program.
Mindy was experiencing more acute respiratory symptoms than she was normally used to. Her CCM nurse raced to get her an appointment at her clinic where a concerning electrocardiogram (EKG) sent her directly to the ER.
After being treated for low potassium and exacerbated COPD symptoms, Mindy was released from the ER, thankful that her CCM nurse reacted as swiftly as she did.
Francesca was dealing with complex COPD symptoms that were particularly severe for a woman of her age. Her CCM nurse stayed in close contact, making a habit of planning weekly phone calls through frequent ER visits and shifting treatment plans. Together, Francesca and her CCM nurse worked through a process of elimination that involved dietary, medical, and lifestyle changes to help her improve her quality of life.
Eventually, Francesca was equipped with a pacemaker, and her severe symptoms all but disappeared. Ecstatic, she called up her CCM nurse to thank her for the diligent work, consistent advocacy, and attentive care she had provided throughout the whole process. Francesca believes that, without her CCM nurse’s persistence, she would have lost her autonomy and been forced out of her home.
Paulina and George
Paulina was originally hesitant to adopt a CCM routine. But, after some insightful conversations with her care management nurse, she got on board and even wanted to enroll her husband, George, who was suffering from severe COPD symptoms.
Geroge’s care manager immediately noticed that he needed a procedure (left-sided thoracentesis) that had never been scheduled. His CCM nurse soon found out the ER responsible for George’s operation never set a date because they never got the order from his Primary Care Physician (PCP). George’s nurse called up the PCP, who instantly greenlit the procedure and put George on track to better health.
Due to a lack of insurance coverage, Juan was having trouble affording the Tiotropium Spiriva inhaler his doctor had prescribed to him. Concerned, his CCM nurse called Juan’s pharmacy to inquire about low-cost alternatives. After some digging, she found a similar inhaler that cost only $10.
Juan’s nurse immediately got on the phone with his provider to get him a new prescription. Soon enough, Juan was able to get his necessary medications and keep his COPD in check for a much more affordable price.
Erwin was also struggling to afford his prescribed inhalers, which were running $700 monthly with no generic alternatives available. So, Erwin’s CCM nurse suggested applying for relief through the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).
Not expecting much, Erwin’s daughter applied for the program and waited for an answer. To their surprise and glee, Erwin was quickly approved, and his out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions dropped to only $50 a month.
Roberto had a hoarse cough and demanded antibiotics as he believed it was bronchitis. Concerned for his kidneys, he didn’t even consider his CCM nurse’s suggestion of taking the loop diuretic Lasix daily.
Nonetheless, his persisting condition necessitated a visit with his Physician Assistant (PA). Lo and behold, Roberto’s PA upheld his CCM nurse’s suggestion of taking Lasix and immediately put him on a regimen. Since following his care team’s prescribed medical advice, Roberto has been able to better understand and manage his condition.
Manage COPD and Other Conditions with RPM from Signallamp Health
COPD is a taxing condition that can take its toll on your health and lifestyle—but you don’t have to deal with it alone. Signallamp Health provides high-quality CCM through vigilant and communicative remote patient monitoring.
CCM can help you better understand your condition, quickly address issues as they arise, and improve your overall quality of life.
If your patients are dealing with chronic conditions and could use some support, don’t hesitate to reach out to the dedicated, caring professionals at Signallamp Health.
 “WORLD COPD DAY 2023.” Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. [Online] Available: https://goldcopd.org/. Accessed October 2, 2023.
 “Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).” World Health Organization. March 16, 2023. [Online] Available: https://www.who.int/. Accessed October 2, 2023.
 “Early Warning Signs of COPD.” American Lung Association. May 10, 2023. [Online] Available: https://www.lung.org/. Accessed October 2, 2023.
 “What Is Spirometry and Why It Is Done.” American Lung Association. March 10, 2023. [Online] Available: https://www.lung.org/. Accessed October 2, 2023.
 “Signallamp Spotlight: COPD.” Signallamp Health. March 1, 2021. [Online] Available: https://signallamphealth.com/. Accessed October 2, 2023.