NASCAR, Danica Patrick Promote COPD Awareness

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The National Association for Stock Car Racing, Inc, better known as NASCAR, has partnered with DRIVE4COPD, a multi-year public health initiative to raise awareness to millions of Americans who may be at risk for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

DRIVE4COPD will become the “Official Health Initiative” of NASCAR to educate fans about the disease and providing screenings at NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races. The organization will have exclusivity with NASCAR for promoting health initiatives directly to NASCAR fans. The DRIVE4COPD 300 took place this afternoon and Tony Stewart won the race.

Steve Phelps, Sr Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for NASCAR says, “NASCAR cares about our fans, and we are very proud to partner with DRIVE4 COPD.”

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DRIVE4COPD is also conducting the “Race for the Missing Millions”, where celebrities and star athletes will race cross-country to identify at least one million undiagnosed COPD sufferers. Included in the event is NASCAR newcomer and INDY Car veteran Danica Patrick along with actor Jim Belushi, Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner, Grammy-award winning country singer Patty Loveless and former NFL star Michael Strahan.

Danica Patrick relays her reason for becoming active in the initiative on the DRIVE4COPD website. Her grandmother had the disease and she recalls her struggle to breathe and the devastating impact that it had on her life, including the inability to participate in many everyday activities with her family.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a serious lung disease that affects an estimated 24 million people – approximately half of whom are undiagnosed. It is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. Women are more likely to be affected than men. Symptoms include increased breathlessness, a chronic cough with or without sputum, wheezing, chest tightness

Two forms of COPD include chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Many patients have both conditions. Exposure to tobacco smoke causes up to 90% of all COPD deaths, and a smoker is at least 10 times more likely to die of COPD than a non-smoker. Another common cause of the disease is pollutants and toxic chemicals.

COPD can also result from a rare genetic disorder that causes low levels of a protein called Alpha-1 antitrypsin. In addition to severe lung disease, Alpha-1 can also cause liver disease. A simple blood test can show if you have Alpha-1.

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