Local veteran warns Americans about COPD

Report: COPD third leading cause of death in U.S.

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - As many as 5.5 percent of Texans have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD.

"I've been smoking since I was 17 and I'm 62 now," says Navy veteran and San Antonio resident Misako Bonner.

Bonner says she smoked a lot during her 19 years in the service.

"It was my saving grace in boot camp," Bonner said.

Now, however, it's quite the opposite. Her smoking is what landed her with COPD, which causes narrowed airways, making it hard to breathe normally.

"I was very casual about my COPD, then I got a reality check," she said.

Her COPD landed her in the hospital twice this year.

"It took all my strength to call 911," she said.

Now, Bonner has quit smoking, and spends so much time with her oxygen tank, she gave it a name.

"This is 'Joe,'" she said. "I take Joe everywhere I go!"

Thanks to Joe and her doctor, Sandra Adams, Bonner lives normall. She goes to Spurs games and even does Zumba every week.

Adams teaches medicine and treates patients at San Antonio's UT Health Science Center and VA hospital.

She says many COPD patients don't recognize symptoms early enough, and wants to change that. That's why she created a website, wipediseases.org.

"We've taken real patient information, we've taken the guidelines and put it into plain English, so physicians, PAs, pharmacists, respiratory therapists and nurses -- all of health care -- can see how to treat COPD the best," Adams said.

There are lots of devices that can help patients with your COPD, but the issue is you can't get your hands on them unless you recognize your symptoms and get diagnosed. Adams sadi education can lead to quicker diagnosis and longer lives.

For more information on COPD, visit this website.

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