Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a long-term lung disease that includes bronchitis and emphysema, is a leading cause of disability and death in the United States. More than 12.5 million people have been diagnosed, but millions more may have the disease without even knowing it. Black women have the highest rate of self-reported COPD diagnosis at 7%, higher than the rate among white women at 5.2%, white men at 2.9%, and Black men at 2.4%. Black patients with chronic COPD were less likely to participate in pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) than white patients, regardless of the distance to the nearest PR program.

Given the tremendous impact COPD has on individuals, it’s no surprise that it is a significant healthcare burden in the United States. In 2019 alone, there were close to 1,320,000 emergency department visits due to COPD and close to 536,000 hospitalizations. The total economic cost of COPD in this country is close to $50 billion each year.

COPD can impact all aspects of one’s life, making basic household and personal care tasks difficult. However, there are numerous actions a person with COPD can take to feel better and reduce the disease’s impact.

Those who are newly diagnosed with COPD often have many questions about what they can do to feel better. With this in mind, the American Lung Association has launched COPD Basics, a one-hour online course that is free and open to all. Designed to improve COPD care, the course is meant for people living with COPD, their families and healthcare professionals, such as nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists.

The COPD Basics course will teach participants about COPD risk factors and prevention; recognizing the symptoms and diagnosing COPD; maintaining a high quality of life while living with a chronic disease, and the latest treatments and medications. Healthcare professionals who complete the course may be eligible to receive continuing education credits or contact hours. If you or a family member has recently been diagnosed with COPD, take the COPD Basics course at

There is currently no cure for COPD, but new resources can help those living with the disease manage their condition.