What Is COPD and Who Is at Risk?

An estimated 16 million Americans are currently diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the American Lung Association. But it’s likely that even more men and women have COPD but just don’t realize it yet. That’s because the symptoms of COPD can develop slowly over the years. COPD can cause:

COPD is serious, but it is often preventable and treatable. 

Because unmanaged COPD can cause serious health complications, it’s important to manage the condition once you develop it. At Family First Wellness, Samantha Lindsay, MD, works hard to help you manage COPD so you can continue to enjoy your active lifestyle. 

Continue reading to learn about COPD, who is most at risk for developing this condition, and how we can help.

What is COPD?

COPD is a type of lung disease characterized by inflamed airways. Thickened and inflamed airways make it difficult to breathe. 

COPD isn’t just one disease. There are actually two forms of the condition: 

Most men and women with COPD have a mixture of the two forms. COPD can’t be cured, but it can be managed with medication like steroids or with inhalers like bronchodilators.

Who is at risk for COPD?

Smoking contributes to nearly 75% of all COPD diagnoses, but smoking isn’t the only risk factor for developing COPD. If you have the following conditions, you have an increased risk for developing COPD:

Even if you’re not a smoker, it’s important to consider all of the risk factors.

What if I already have COPD?

If you have already been diagnosed with COPD, follow your treatment plan, which may include bronchodilators and steroids. If you already have COPD, you can improve your lung health by:

In addition, you should get tested for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency —  a genetic disease that can actually cause COPD. This genetic deficiency is rare, but knowing you lack this protein can play a big role in your creating your treatment plan.


Learning you are at risk for COPD can be overwhelming, but Dr. Lindsay and our staff at Family First Wellness are here to guide you through the next steps. With the right treatment, you can feel like yourself again. 

To learn more about COPD or to discuss testing for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, request an appointment by calling our Lutz, Florida, office.

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