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She walks her dog, Joy, when she can but gets winded easily.
She walks her dog, Joy, when she can but gets winded easily. No one suspected it would make them more than equal to men in suffering a choking, life-shortening lung disease. But one day, Cousins started coughing and could not stop — or take a deep breath. She drove to a hospital, where doctors looikng her she had a progressive lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD.
Women for 58 percent of the Nearly 8 percent of women in the U.
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Meilan Han, associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan. Symptoms owmen 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. The most important thing a patient can do after a COPD diagnosis is to stop smoking.
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Former first lady Barbara Bush is one of many women in U. The rise in lung disease is mostly attributed to women adopting smoking habits later in ajerican experts say. Robert F. Men started smoking in large s in the late s, coinciding with the mass production of cigarettes.
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In the s womeen s, tobacco companies began targeting women with that appealed to their sense of independence and yearning for social and sexual desirability. Another wave of ad campaigns in the late s and early s induced large s of women, and teenage girls, to start smoking cigarettes.
aerican Research shows women may be more susceptible to the toxic effects of cigarette smoke than are men. Estrogen can also worsen the lung damage caused by smoking.
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The Union City, Calif. Courtesy of Joan Cousins Cousins, who stopped smoking at age 62, said she now takes an oxygen tank everywhere she goes. Despite the assisted breathing, Cousins said she often feels as if someone is pushing down on her chest. Beyond smoking, factors such as pollution and genetics can contribute to developing the disease.
Women are more likely than men to have flare-ups, or exacerbations, which can be caused by infections or exposure to pollutants.
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Frequent exacerbations are associated with a faster progression of the disease. Helena Bravi of Lawrence, Kan.
She tries to avoid triggers such as smoke and aerosols. In the most severe cases, lung transplants might be needed.
Doctors and advocates say many women are unknowingly living with the disease because they lack of awareness or are reluctant to seek help. Wilgus, said she had problems exhaling for years, and common colds 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 learned she had COPD.
Now, with medication, she can walk around the park without stopping or gasping for air, she said. In one well-known study, physicians who were presented with hypothetical patients made the correct diagnosis more often for men than for women. She gave up her year smoking habit with the help of a nicotine patch, takes her medications lookng exercises regularly. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.