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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Description, Warning Signs, Detection, and Management


What is COPD?

COPD is a term used to describe lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, non-reversible asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. Symptoms are noticed in the more advanced stages of the disease. COPD affects an estimated 30 million Americans1, and more than half suffer from symptoms of COPD and do not know it. Early screening can identify COPD before the disease develops further.


Warning Signs and Common Symptoms

In the early stages of the disease, you may not notice any symptoms. COPD can develop for years without noticeable shortness of breath. Symptoms generally become noticeable in the more developed stages. It is important to talk with your doctor as soon as you notice any of the following: 

  • Increased breathlessness
  • Frequent coughing 
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest

COPD occurs most often in those 40 and older who have a history of smoking. Approximately 90% of those diagnosed smoke, or previously smoked2


The Benefit of Early Detection

Early detection allows for you or a loved one to get the maximum benefit from available treatments. In addition, detecting and diagnosing the disease early on allows for more time to plan for the future and explore support services. Ask your doctor about a spirometry test. 

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • How can I tell if my symptoms are COPD?
  • What lifestyle changes can I make to help reduce my symptoms?
  • What are the health risks associated with COPD?
  • Are there vaccines that I need?
  • Can I exercise? If so, what are some safe types of exercising I can do?

Blue Cross Blue Shield COPD Management Program
At Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, we're here to help support you or a loved one living with COPD. Enroll in our program today to work with one of our highly trained case managers. Help is only a click or a call away - call a case manager at 1-877-878-8785, option 2. 

Contact our Health Management Team

Speak with a case manager today! Call 1-877-878-8785, option 2. 

Did you know?

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