Helping People Cope With COPD

By Valerie Chang, JD, Executive Director, COPD Coalition

Try the coffee stirrer challenge: Breathe through a coffee stirrer, pinch your nose and run up several fights of stairs. This is how it feels to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Intended to increase awareness of this growing global problem, November is COPD month, and World COPD Day is Nov. 19. COPD is an umbrella term for emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. In Hawaii, 46,015 adults have been diagnosed with COPD, and an equal number are undiagnosed. It costs more than $55 million per year in Hawaii for COPD hospitalizations and emergency visits. It is the third leading cause of death and second leading cause of disability in the U.S. About five of six people with COPD acquired it from smoking cigarettes; the others from secondhand smoke, toxic work environments or genetic causes.


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Valerie Chang, Hawaii COPD Coalition; U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono; Tiffany Gourley, Coalition for Tobacco Free Hawaii policy director; and Lila Johnson, American Cancer Society, meet Aug. 20 for a briefing on lung health issues and COPD PHOTOS FROM COPD COALITION

Hawaii COPD Coalition (HiCOPD) was formed in 2007 as a nonprofit corporation, providing services and support to people who are affected by COPD. Since its inception,

HiCOPD has tested thousands of people throughout the state, educated health care providers, held support group meetings and annual education days, and has advocated on lung health locally and nationally.

A simple COPD Population Screener helps you figure out whether your health care provider should order you a breathing test (spirometry) to find out if you have COPD. You can complete the screener on our website ( and share it with your doctor.

Treatments help patients with COPD breathe better. The COPD Assessment Test is one way of working with your health care team to ensure your COPD is as well-controlled as possible so you can continue to live an active and fulfilling life.

Monthly support-group meetings are held the second Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon at Kaiser Permanente at 1010 Pensacola St. Classes also are held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. the second Thursday of each month at Pali Momi Medical Center.

We will have our ninth annual COPD Education Day in September 2015 — watch our website. Learn more by participating in our events. Check out our calendar and free resources on our website. For more information, email Valerie Chang at or call 699-9839.

Happy breathing!

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