Breathe in. Breathe out. It seems easy enough─unless every breath you take is a struggle. With chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), breathing can be so restricted that tasks that many of us take for granted, like walking to the mailbox, are a major undertaking.
What is COPD?
COPD is a term used to describe lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Normal lungs work by bringing in oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide. You breathe in oxygen, and it is passed into your blood through tiny air sacs in the lungs. Carbon dioxide is the waste that is created when your tissue and muscles are active.
COPD damages lung tissue and air sacs. This disease makes it hard for lungs to put oxygen into the blood because of the damage. Unfortunately, many patients also have congestive heart failure (CHF). If this is true, you should weigh yourself daily if you are able.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, COPD is on the rise in the United States, with more than 15 million people being diagnosed by a healthcare provider every year. This number climbs higher when you factor in the people with COPD who don’t know it. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the third-leading cause of death in this country, which equals one death every 4 minutes.
Although the disease does not have a cure and the statistics above are disturbing, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can be managed and symptoms controlled. With careful management, complications are decreased, and patients can avoid returning to the hospital.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of COPD?
At one time or another, someone with COPD can experience any of the following signs and symptoms:
- Worsening shortness of breath
- Worsening cough
- Change in mucus production
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain or tightness
- Decrease in alertness or greater confusion
- New difficulty performing daily activity
- Nausea or vomiting with poor appetite
- Feel like your medication is not helping you
- Increase in weight of 3 pounds in one day or 5 pounds in one week
- Swelling of feet, ankles or belly
- Poor sleep
At Home with COPD Program
At Chapters Health System and its affiliates—Good Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice and LifePath Hospice, we recognize the unique needs of patients with a chronic illness such as COPD. Our At Home with COPD program was specifically developed to meet those needs and help patients decrease unwanted, expensive hospitalizations.
Research published in the Journal of the COPD Foundation showed that one in five patients with COPD is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. It is estimated that approximately half of the estimated $50 billion in annual COPD healthcare expenses is due to the costs linked to multiple hospitalizations. Many risk factors cause hospital readmission including medication management issues, lack of follow up, social and economic issues, and medical, psychological and emotional challenges.
Our At Home with COPD program includes the following for patients diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease:
- Initial and ongoing home education is provided to patients and families to assist in controlling COPD symptoms. Patients can therefore remain more comfortable at wherever they call home.
- Patients receive education to break the cycle of anxiety and breathlessness. In addition, check-in calls are made to find out how patients are feeling, if there’s been any change in symptoms or if they have any additional needs.
- The nursing team verifies that COPD prescribed medications are taken correctly.
- Patients also receive a color-coded tool that helps them “grade” their symptoms so they know what a good day looks like versus when they need to be cautious or call Good Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice and LifePath Hospice for help.
- Patients have 24/7/365 access to the HospiceHelp24® nursing hotline for immediate help with any change in their symptoms, such as difficulty performing daily activities, increased shortness of breath and tightness in the chest.
In addition, our hospice nurses are equipped to anticipate the needs and symptoms of these patients.
Please call today for more information on how Good Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice or LifePath Hospice and our At Home with COPD program can help you or a loved one with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Good Shepherd Hospice: 1.800.544.3280
HPH Hospice: 1.866.940.0962
LifePath Hospice: 1.800.355.8170