• 6th Oxygen Consensus Conference
  • This August in Denver, Colorado was a three-day marathon of meetings and sometimes heated discussions about oxygen for our patients. Represented at this conference of 100 invited participants were scientists, HMO executives, patients, manufacturers of oxygen equipment, NIH, oxygen suppliers, health care providers and 3rd party payers from Medicare and insurance companies, along with observers from Europe and Japan. In other words, quite a mix. Three members of the PERF Board attended: Rich Casaburi, Brian Tiep and myself while the meeting was Chaired by Dr. Tom Petty. The four of us all presented lectures. As you can imagine, there were many different outlooks on what the problems are and how to handle them. None of us will completely get what we want for our interest group but all of us came away with a better understanding of the problems faced by groups other than our own. The leaders of the discussion groups have written up the important points decided on by individual groups and this is now being written for publication next January. We will keep you posted and print a summary as soon as it is available.

  • World COPD Day
  • This is late notice, but World COPD Day will be celebrated in this country on Wednesday, November 16th around the theme "Breathless not Helpless!" The website www.goldcopd.com has information and ideas on what to do. The Great American Smokeout is also on November 16th.

  • Do you ever listen to the Hungarian National Radio through the Internet?
  • You don't? Well if you did you would hear a periodic announcement that "The Hungarian Pulmonological Society" has declared November 17th to be National COPD day. Organized pulmonary function screenings will be offered to the public. The first 150 people who sign up will receive free complete pulmonary function tests." Who is responsible for this progressive move in an Eastern European nation? While he remains modest, there is no doubt in our minds that our friend Dr. Attila Somfay played a major role. Attila is a member of Presidency (Board of directors) of the 11 member Hungarian Respiratory Society Gremium. One year ago, they declared 2005 "the year of COPD". Here is his description of recent activities.

    "We organized lot of nationwide activities on this topic. The broadcasted commercial was a piece of this activity. I personally played major role in this program. Among others, I put together a slide presentation for the diagnosis of COPD, which was presented at 30 different places in the country. I wrote a book for COPD patient (with your major support, thanks to Tom Petty as well), which will be introduced to the public on 19 November, when we deliver several presentations in a daylong symposium on COPD. This will be the closing event of the year of COPD.

    On 17 November, the day of COPD, there will be free spirometric screenings for the public in Szeged (200,000 people) and Hodmezovasarhelyindex (60,000 people) at pulmonary clinics. In the near future, according to my suggestion, we will try to organize nationwide spirometric screenings for smokers (or previous smokers) between the ages of 40-70 years. This is the major source of COPD. Thanks again for supporting us."

    Why are we telling you all of this? Attila spent a year and a half at LA Biomed, Harbor-UCLA doing the required research for his PhD with Rich Casaburi and Janos Porszasz while also learning about the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation. He went back to Hungary and convinced a skeptical community, as well as many physicians, of the value of smoking cessation programs, early screening for pulmonary disease, and pulmonary rehab in this country of heavy smokers. (We could use his help here!) Attila remains a wonderful example of how the training of just one physician can have a major impact since, in addition to starting pulmonary rehab in Hungary; he is promoting it in other Eastern European countries. Funding to train physicians such as Attila Somfay is one of the missions of PERF. We have already started such a fund dedicated to this very worthwhile purpose. Perhaps Dr. Rich Casaburi will tell you more about it in his annual appeal for financial help.

  • Do you ever listen to the Hungarian National Radio through the Internet?
  • Alice would like to know if hypnosis will help her get off of oxygen.
  • Hypnosis sometimes has its place, especially when dealing with emotions. For instance, if you were very short of breath and thought you needed oxygen when your tests showed you were in the normal range, hypnosis might be helpful in overcoming your anxiety and fear of not having enough oxygen. Pulmonary rehabilitation, however, can also do this along with teaching you many other things. We think it is a better long-term solution. Oxygen need is not based on subjective feelings of shortness of breath. It is based on defined levels of the partial pressure of oxygen in the arterial blood gas, or of oxygen saturation as shown on an oximeter. That is, your tests must show that you desaturated to 88% or less or that your PO2 was 55 or less in order for you to be eligible for an oxygen prescription. There are times when you are put on oxygen with a saturation of 89% or a PO2 of 60 or less but these are carefully defined. These numbers are not influenced by your attitude or positive thinking. They can be influenced by pulmonary infections, proper, or improper, use of respiratory medications, and breathing patterns. If you have recently had a marked increase in shortness of breath you need to call your pulmonologist to see what is going on. If all the possible problems, as mentioned above, can be ruled out, we'd suggest a pulmonary rehab program for lasting benefit.

    Lowell writes:

    When I was a kid, long, long, long ago, I remember a cigarette called 'Blosser' being sold as a medicated cigarette. This is just a curiosity that I have been unable to chase down. Do you know about it?

    Recently (2 1/2 weeks) I started taking Tiotropium bromide inhalation powder. Is this related to any of the old fashioned remedies? I thank you for your articles - I find them very interesting (and yes even somewhat comforting).

    Thanks, Lowell! Blossers were "asthma cigarettes" sold in the early-mid 20th Century. The medication (often stramonium or belladona) is actually distantly related to tiotropium. The cigarettes were acrid and must have been difficult to smoke, but were said to have produced bronchodilitation. Hope this helps.

    Where can I learn more about Oxy-View eye glasses or order them?

    Oxy-ViewTM eyeglass frames, fitted with your prescription lenses, will combine corrected vision and oxygen therapy, up to 5 liters per minute. Check their website at www.oxyview.com or telephone 877-699-8439 for information.

  • Mary sends special thanks to Kevin and Judy Hettich for their generous donation to the Chair of Rehabilitative Sciences in the name of Mary Burns.

  • Do you have a question about respiratory disease that has been bothering you? If so, feel free to write and ask us, either through our web site or by mail. We answer all of your letters.