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'Scary' disease now afflicts more women than men in U.S.



 Women account for 58 percent of the 14.7 million people in the U.S. living with COPD and 53 percent of those who are from it, according to the American Lung Association. Photo: BSIP / UIG, Contributor / Getty Images / Universal Images Group.


Photo: BSIP / UIG, Contributor / Getty Images / Universal Images Group
                                                    


Women account for 58 percent of the 1

4.7 million people in the U.S. living with COPD and 53 percent of those who are from it, according to the American Lung Association.
                        
                                

Women's account for 58 percent of the 14.7 million people in the US …

Joan Cousins ​​was a sophisticated, modern, even liberating. No one suspected it would make them more equal to suffering from a choking, life-shortening disease.

"Everybody smoked. It's the cool thing to do, "said Cousins, who smoked her first cigarette at age 16.


But one day, cousins ​​started coughing and could not stop – or take a deep breath. She drove to a hospital, where doctors told her she had a progressive lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cousins ​​said.

COPD traditionally considered a man's disease, but it now kills more women in the United States than men. Women account for 58 percent of the 14.7 million people in the U.S. 53 percent of those who are from it, according to the American Lung Association. Nearly 8 percent of women in the U.S.


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"It's a huge public health problem for women that does not really get enough attention, "said Dr. Meilan Han, associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan.

Because COPD is often associated with men, women are often diagnosed after the disease is already advanced. Symptoms of COPD include a chronic cough, wheezing, tightening of the chest and shortness of breath. There is no cure for COPD, but its progression can be slowed.

Researchers largely blah women's gradual adoption of smoking for the modern-day rise in COPD deaths among women. Men started smoking in the late 1800s, coinciding with the mass production of cigarettes. In the 1920s and 1930s, tobacco companies began targeting women with ads that were appeased to their sense of independence and yearning for social and sexual desirability.

Another wave of ad campaigns in the late 1960s and early 1970s teenage girls, to start smoking cigarettes. Brands is looking for Virginia Slims capitalized on the women's liberation movement with catchy slogans, including "You've come a long way, baby."

"The effects of COPD are delayed for decades and decades," Dr. May-Lin Wilgus, Assistant Clinical Professor and Pulmonologist at UCLA Health. "We are seeing the effects of women smoking in large numbers, especially in the 1960s and '70s."

Gender differences thus contribute to the increased danger of COPD for women. Research shows women may be more susceptible to the toxic effects of cigarette smoke than are men. The exact reason is not certain, but the researchers are one factor. Estrogen can also be harmed by smoking.

Cousins, who stopped drinking at age 62, said she now takes to oxygen tank everywhere she goes. She half-jokingly calls it her "best friend." At night, she sleeps. Despite the assisted breathing, Cousins ​​said she often feels as if someone is pushing down on her chest. The 83-year-old, who lives southeast of San Francisco, is still able to garden and create art – among its specialties is wood-burned decor.

COPD is an umbrella bronchitis, emphysema and other conditions that make it difficult for people to push out of their lungs.

Women are more likely to have flare-ups, or exacerbations, which may be due to infection or exposure to pollutants.

Helena Bravi of Lawrence, Kan., Said she has repeatedly gone to the ER since her COPD diagnosis four years ago, even though she is on medication and oxygen. When her COPD flares up, Bravi said the pressure builds up in her chest and she gets anxious. They try to avoid triggers as smoke and aerosol.

"It's really scary," she said.

COPD treatment, which may temporarily improve symptoms and function, may include bronchodilators to open airways, inhalers and steroids, said Han, who is a volunteer spokeswoman for the American Lung Association.

Doctors and advocates say many women are unknowingly living with the disease because of the lack of awareness or are reluctant to seek help.

"If they have trouble breathing when they They're up, they're saying 'I'm just a little older or heavier or out of shape,' "said Stephanie Williams, director of community programs for the COPD Foundation, which has recently become a webinar on the disease among women.

Inez Shakman, 73, who lives in Ventura, Calif., And sees. Wilgus, said she had problems exhaling for years, and common colds being tended to settle in her chest and last longer than expected. She also found it physically straining sometimes to walk in the park. It was only about four months ago that she had learned COPD. She'd never heard of the disease.

Medical schools have long been taught about COPD with a textbook that features images of two men, and researchers have detected gender bias in doctors. Diagnoses of the disease. In one well-known study, physicians who were presented with hypothetical patients made the correct diagnosis more often than for women.


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