According to Lance Lothert, respiratory therapy department manager at the Redwood Area Hospital, the problem with Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD,  is many people don’t even know they have it.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is the fourth leading cause of death in the world, and according to the World Health Organization, it kills more than three million people each year.

While these statistics are cause for alarm, the reality is things are getting worse.

It is predicted by 2020 if patterns hold that COPD?is going to be the third leading killer globally.

According to Lance Lothert, respiratory therapy department manager at the Redwood Area Hospital, the problem is many people don’t even know they have it. He said there are 12 million people with symptoms that likely would lead to a diagnosis of COPD who have no idea.

In fact, the majority of the public has no idea what COPD even is.

To help raise awareness of COPD an international event known as World COPD?Day is held.

This year that event was held Nov. 18, and the Minnesota Society of Respiratory Care held an awareness day at the state capitol in St. Paul.

The event, said Lothert, included providing education to those who were at the capitol, as well as free lung function tests known as spirometry.

“This is an event that has been going on for some time,”?said Lothert.

In Minnesota, the event was held this year in an effort to help raise awareness among legislators.

Held in November, Lothert said there were few legislators in attendance, but he said one state proponent was there – Scott Dibble.

Dibble made a name for himself in Minnesota as the author of the Freedom to Breathe Act, which banned smoking in indoor public places statewide.

Smoking, said Lothert, is the leading cause of COPD, but, he added, it is not the only cause.


COPD can be caused by long-term exposure to dusts, chemicals and certain fumes that could negatively impact the respiratory system.

Lothert said those people over 40 who have a persistent cough and who smoke should come in for a lung function test.

“A constant cough is not normal,”?said Loth-ert, adding shortness of breath is not a normal thing, either, and it is not a sign of old age.

A full pulmonary check of an individual can be conducted at the local hospital, which can lead to ways to help slow down the symptoms of COPD.

No, said Lothert, there is no cure for COPD, but with the right medications and activities it can be slowed down.

Lothert said one of the best ways to slow down COPD?is to get rid of the reasons it occurred in the first place, which could include smoking or removing oneself from the environment where one is being impacted.

Lothert said a simple act like wearing a mask can help improve one’s life with COPD.

When COPD is in the more serious stages, Lothert said one’s ability to do even simple tasks can be significantly limited.

The opportunity to raise awareness of COPD is a good one ot take, and Lothert said the event held earlier this month was a good way to get the word out about COPD.

For more information on COPD, one can visit the Minnesota Society for Respiratory Care Web site at

Lothert said the local hospital Web site also has information about the respiratory care program available. One can find that information at