Why do some illnesses get more attention than others? Is it due to celebrity champions or media coverage? Let’s look at a condition that tens of millions of Americans have, that progresses over time and can cause significant debility, even death, but receives very little attention.  It poses physical, emotional, and financial stressors on the loved ones of the patient, yet patients often receive very little support. That illness is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, otherwise known as COPD, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis.

Even if you or someone you love has COPD, you may not have access to important information about it. What happens to the lungs over time? What other vital organs are involved as the lungs don’t do their job? Why do people lose so much weight, even if they feel like they are eating until they are full?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions you’re not alone. Most patients and family members experiencing this serious condition don’t know either. You might wonder that if over 30 million Americans have this condition and, that it will be responsible for almost $50 billion of healthcare spending annually within the next few years, why it doesn’t get the spotlight that something like HIV or autism does.

COPD is not a curable condition. Over time it will progress. Once patients need to go to the hospital for episodes of more difficult breathing (called “exacerbations”) the prognosis is much worse. However, there is hope for those patients and families going through this. There are a number of measures which can be taken that will improve quality of life, decrease family distress, and possibly even prolong life.

A recent study shows that less than 2% of those with severe COPD get assistance by a supportive medical service that helps them achieve these improvements in quality of life. Less than 2%! Other illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, once had a lack of supportive services as well. As doctors and the general public turned their sights onto cancer and heart problems, supportive services grew significantly. It is past time for COPD patients and families to be allotted the same resources as these other serious conditions.

At Iris Plans we help patients and families experiencing COPD with a highly supportive service called health care planning. This is more than just talking about future care. It is about staying in control of your healthcare and choosing to be proactive. This allows you to get the care you want, not just the standard protocol. It also helps you significantly reduce the natural stresses and conflicts that will likely occur for you and those you love. We have designed the service specifically to the needs of people with COPD. Choose planning over passiveness with Iris Plans.

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