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Introducing “Added Insights from Dr. Nair”

We have added a new feature to the news articles shared by the National Emphysema Foundation: Added Insights from Dr. Nair. These commentaries by NEF’s President of Clinical Affairs, Laurence Nair, MD, will enhance the value of the articles we present each month by providing extra insights from the clinician’s perspective. Whether he is expanding on the article’s key points, highlighting particularly important aspects, or challenging the reader to take the news with a grain of salt, Added Insights will provide another layer of information and education on living with COPD.

Dr. Nair is a three-time board-certified pulmonary critical physician and an assistant professor of medicine at Frank Netter School of Medicine in North Haven, Conn. He has an active pulmonary practice and rounds in the Intensive Care Unit at Medstate Medical Center in Meriden, Conn.

Over the course of his 25 years in practice, Dr. Nair has worked regularly with COPD patients in all phases of the disease process – accumulating a depth of experience and level of expertise that make his contributions to NEF’s monthly news roundup particularly meaningful.


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April 24, 2013
Study Reveals Prevalence of COPD by State
In 2008, chronic lower respiratory disease, primarily chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), became the third leading cause of death in the United States after only heart disease and cancer.

August 12, 2011
COPD Prevalence Stable, But Death Rate Declines in Men
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) remains a significant killer, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

COPD: The Basics

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third-leading cause of death in the United States and one of the most common lung diseases in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 210 million people across the world are currently suffering from COPD. That estimate includes nearly 12 million Americans living with COPD, while another 12 million may be left undiagnosed.

COPD is a combination of diseases, with most patients suffering from both chronic bronchitis and emphysema, making breathing more and more difficult for them. That is because emphysema destroys the air sacs in the lungs over time, reducing the surface area of the lungs and the amount of oxygen that enters the bloodstream. Further, chronic bronchitis leaves patients with inflamed bronchial tubes and a long-term cough with mucus.

Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, coughing with or without mucus, respiratory infections, tightness of the chest, wheezing and trouble catching one’s breath. However, most COPD patients do not experience symptoms from the disease until their lungs have been severely damaged, making it important for those people who are at risk for the disease to be screened regularly. Spirometry is the most commonly used test for diagnosing COPD, while X-rays, CT scans and lab tests can also be used.

While smoking is the main cause of COPD, inhaling irritants such as chemicals, dust and other fumes are also risk factors. COPD can also affect those who have never smoked or had any contact with harmful pollutants, as there is a genetic risk factor for developing emphysema. The most commonly known genetic risk factor for emphysema is called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency, which leaves patients with little to no AAT protein in the bloodstream. This deficiency leaves room for white blood cells to damage the lungs. While AAT deficiency seems to be the main cause of COPD among nonsmokers, researchers believe that there are other genetic factors that may increase the risk of developing the disease.

While currently there is no cure for COPD, there are treatment options to relieve symptoms and keep the disease from progressing. These include medications such as inhalers and steroids, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and surgery. There are also steps that COPD patients can take on their own to improve their symptoms, including:

  • Practicing controlled breathing and relaxation exercises
  • Exercising regularly to strengthen respiratory muscles
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water
  • Avoiding crowds and cold air
  • Getting vaccinated for respiratory infections
  • Quitting smoking and avoiding places where smoking is permitted

While COPD cannot be cured, it can be prevented by avoiding smoking and by breathing clean, fresh air to keep lungs healthy.

Click Here to Access More Information About COPD From dailyRx.

The Lung

The largest and one of the most complex organs in the human body, the lungs play a pivotal role in the proper function and health of every organ, cell and tissue in the body. That is because the lungs provide the body with oxygen, which is required for all organ functions, including heart functions that are involved in every living activity.

In its healthy state, the lung receives the air that you breathe through your bronchial tubes, or airways, which branch into thousands of smaller tubes called bronchioles, and then again into bunches of tiny air sacs called alveoli. These airways and air sacs are all elastic by nature, and fill up with air as you breathe in and deflate as you breathe out. When air reaches these air sacs, the oxygen in the air passes through the sac walls into the bloodstream by way of small blood vessels (capillaries), while carbon dioxide moves from these blood vessels into the air sacs.

However, a number of outside factors can negatively affect the airways and air sacs and their ability to supply oxygen to the bloodstream. For example, smoking and long-term exposure to other lung irritants can compromise the elasticity of the airways and air sacs and destroy the walls between many of the sacs. The walls of the airways can also become thick and inflamed, while an increase in mucus production may clog them. As a result, less oxygen is produced by the lungs and delivered to the body’s vital organs.

Because oxygen is critical to the survival of all human beings, maintaining healthy lungs is the key to the energy chain that keeps us living.

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To achieve our mission, the NEF’s initiatives have focused on encouraging research and the further education of physicians, on providing information to patients and their caregivers, works with many advisors who are involved in direct patient care.

NEF created and now runs the first web site exclusively devoted to inform readers about emphysema and COPD. This web site is visited by thousands of patients and caregivers throughout the world in twenty-eight different languages.

The information presented here is from experienced professionals, they have written their expert opinions specifically for the website. Information is also presented from published literature. It is not a therapeutic recommendation or prescription. For specific information and advice, consult your own physician or other healthcare provider.

The National Emphysema Foundation is unique in that it does not actively participate in fundraising. Since our inception friends, patients and their families have voluntarily and generously provided contributions, bequests, foundation grants, trusts and endowments to support our needs. NEF is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization, and as such, all contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.





Board of Directors

Laurence G. Nair, MD, President

Ronald A. Nair JD, MIM, Secretary and Treasurer

Karyn N. Bhak, MPH


Executive Director

Rhoda H. Senator, EdD


Past Trustees

Sreedhar Nair, MD

Walter Baum

Richard Imbruce, PhD

Andrew K. Bhak

Gregory Imbruce

William Anthony

Lloyd W. Anthony

Charles Lipton

Nicholas Nardi

John C. Carter


Honorary Trustees

Joanne Woodward

Paul Newman (1971 - 2008)

Robert Stack (1971 – 2001)

Eileen Heckart (1971 – 2002)


2015 American Thoracic Society Annual Meeting Highlights: Wrapping it Up
After attending many informational sessions at the American Thoracic Society’s Annual Meeting, National Emphysema Foundation President, Laurence G. Nair, offered a summary of some of the most interesting topics brought up during the conference.

2015 American Thoracic Society Annual Meeting Highlights: Approaches to Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS) for Emphysema and Heterogeneity of COPD
National Emphysema Foundation President, Laurence G. Nair also attended another session at the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting, titled “Approaches to Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS) for Emphysema,” which highlighted the strides that lung volume reduction techniques have made since introduced about 20 years ago.

2015 American Thoracic Society Annual Meeting Highlights: Year in Review - Literature
The American Thoracic Society (ATS) held its annual meeting in Denver, Colorado on May 15-20 this year, where chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was a topic that many physicians decided to head to the Rockies to discuss.


September 15, 2009
Medical Conference Notes - ACCP #2
These were some of the developments that were presented at an American College of Chest Physicians meeting that will be interesting to follow over the coming years.

September 15, 2009
Medical Conference Notes - ACCP
At a recent conference of the American College of Chest Physicians held in Canada some of the topics discussed there were relevant to COPD.

Weekly Articles/blog

Weekly Articles/blog

Quitting Smoking

For people diagnosed with chronic lung conditions, the importance of quitting smoking cannot be stressed enough. Smoking is the number one cause of COPD and emphysema and according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) increases the risk of death from chronic obstructive lung disease by 12 to 13 times.

Cigarette smoke causes inflammation and damage to the lung, specifically the air sacs that provide oxygen to the blood, and can prevent air from flowing in and out normally. As such, those people diagnosed with chronic lung conditions should quit smoking immediately.

While quitting smoking may not be easy, it can be done. However, it is important to have realistic expectations. Quitting will not happen overnight. And it is important to remember that withdrawal symptoms are temporary, while the negative effects of smoking are not.


April 04, 2016
E-cigarette Vapor Could Lead to Emphysema, Say CMU Researchers
There are many myths associated with electronic cigarette use, one in particular is the ability to avoid chronic lung diseases such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

December 28, 2015
Talking to Kids About Smoking Risks May Help Parents Quit
According to a recent study from Nicotine and Tobacco Research, “parents who quit smoking may be less likely to relapse when they discuss the dangers of cigarettes with their children.”

May 11, 2015
E-Cigarettes Don't Work as Quit-Smoking Aid
A recent one year study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, of 1,000 California smokers, found that smokers who used e-cigarettes were less likely to quit regular cigarettes than those who hadn't tried the devices.

March 16, 2015
CVS Health Announces Data from Smoking Cessation Outreach Program
CVS Health recently celebrated their one-year anniversary of their decision to stop tobacco sales with new data.

August 06, 2013
Improve Your Chances of Quitting
For people living with chronic lung conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), quitting smoking is an important step to managing the condition and improving their overall health. However, many struggle to quit for a number of reasons.

April 23, 2012
The Reality of Quitting Smoking
Smoking tobacco is the number one risk factor for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung conditions.

March 26, 2012
The Benefits of Quitting Smoking
For people diagnosed with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the importance of quitting smoking cannot be stressed enough.

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