West Virginia has the fourth highest rate of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the nation.
The staggering rates of the deadly lung disease can be attributed to very high percentages of adult and teenage smokers in the Mountain State.
Secondhand smoke is a great contributing factor as well, along with occupational dust from coal mining. Environmental contributors include chemical plants and air pollution.
"I think a lot of it's because we have such a high rate of smokers and people living with smokers," says Carrie Brainard, health and wellness director at the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department. "We're at 26 percent, which is much higher than the national level. It's leveled off but it hasn't really gone down as much as we'd like to see. We do have opportunities here at the health department if people are wanting to quit."
Camden Clark Medical Center also has an outpatient pulmonary rehab program.
Susan Aufdenkampe, director of respiratory therapy says she definitely sees an increase in the number of patients referred to the hospital for COPD.
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