COPD: When Breathing Gets Tough

Rabin Medical Center is at the forefront of medical research in Israel. A Jerusalem Post article by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich featured a Rabin Medical Center doctor, Benjamin Fox, who specializes in COPD. According to the article, 330,000 Israelis and nearly 330 million people around the world are struggling with this disease. COPD is formally known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which used to be known as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, but they only describe the symptoms in the lungs. Dr. Fox explains:

If there were no tobacco, I would probably be out of a job. If tobacco were a new product that had to receive marketing approval from the authorities, it would never be authorized, just like heroin and cocaine. Young people think ‘it’ will never happen to them. The danger is not only from cigarettes but also from nargilas, cigars and pipes.

Essentially, tobacco is almost the sole cause of COPD in the developed world; a much less common cause is intense and prolonged occupational exposure to workplace dusts, chemicals and fumes. COPD is not really a genetically transmitted disorder but Dr. Fox explains that, “‘ There is, however, a rare genetic disease involving the deficiency of an enzyme called alpha-1 antitrypsin that can also cause COPD.”

Of those who smoke, about a fifth will get COPD, but among those who regularly smoke only about half will develop the fatal disease.

“In many developed countries such as the US and the UK, between 80 percent to 95 percent of COPD patients are either current smokers or previously smoked. There is no cure, but kicking the dirty habit can slow the progression and maybe even improve the situation a bit but can’t cure it; there are medications that can also ease the symptoms. thus early detection is important”

The sufferers of COPD are usually male and over the age of 55. However, women sufferers are increasing rapidly. By 2020, it is projected that COPD will be the third most common cause of death in the world and the fifth in engendering disability. Fox says that a solution for those suffering is pulmonary rehabilitation, or exercise in a medical setting, is provided in order to improve the quality of life and also reduce the number of hospital admissions. However, this does not help improve lung function but it helps heal the emotional toll it takes on the patient.

Israel’s Rabin Medical Center boasts the foremost facility in Israel for treatment of lung diseases, and the only one throughout the country for lung transplantation, rated among the top world-wide.To learn more visit and to donate please click here.

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