PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Pennsylvania Medical Society is urging doctors and patients to pay a little more attention to a disease that can literally leave you breathless.

Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of having the 6th highest death rate from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Internist Dr. Anthony Spinola said the disease does not get enough attention. He calls it an, “Under-recognized ailment,” and said, “It kills 110,000 people every year and utilizes a lot of health care resources.”

COPD, at its worst, can leave you feeling as if you are breathing through a straw. Its early signs can be a chronic cough, wheezing, and mild shortness of breath. Dr. Spinola said the major causes are heredity, air quality, and smoking. He adds that, at times, chronic infections can lead to chronic obstructive lung disease as well.

There is no cure for the disease but treatment often involves eliminating the irritant, especially smoking. Dr. Spinola said more physicians now have breath measurement gear in the office to help determine whether that cough is something more.

Reported by: John Ostapkovich, KYW Newsradio

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