Posts Tagged Healthy Living

Stay Involved, Stay Active

March 25th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Bonnie Chakravorty says she first remembers being extremely short of breath in 1973 while living in Champagne, IL.

“At the time I was living in a rural area, and there was fertilizer put out and you could smell it everywhere. I thought I was allergic to it. But after I moved to the city but I continued to have episodes, particularly when I was driving in my car and exposed to fumes from cars,” Chakravorty says. “It got so bad one day I pulled into a hospital and went to the emergency room, thinking I was having a heart attack.”

Soon after, Chakravorty says she was diagnosed with asthma in 1979.

“They prescribed me inhalers, but in the meantime through all of this, I was teaching fitness classes. I decided I had to tone it down a bit myself,” she says. “I did notice I started feeling better, but I continued to sporadically have episodes.”

She was very active during this time, riding her bicycle almost a mile to where she taught her classes.


Currently living in Tennessee, Chakravorty works full time as a professor of Health Sciences  at Tennessee State University.  Among other courses she teaches a course on Pathology and frequently uses Alpha-1 as an example of a genetic condition.

She says at most she smoked half a pack or less per day during her teenage years.

“My first piece of advice for other individuals with COPD is to go to pulmonary rehab. That’s a good start, particularly if you’re not used to being active,” Chakravorty says. “It’s nice because they give you good advice and help you understand how to cope with some of the feelings of shortness of breath, and teach you how to do the right exercises.”

Although when diagnosed with asthma she began taking inhalers, she noticed that she was still getting progressively worse.

Chakravorty remembers being told in 1996 she had the lungs of an 80-year-old who smoked two packs a day. This is when she was tested for Alpha-1.

“Coincidentally, I’m also a tobacco researcher, and Alpha-1 was always a footnote. We’d talk about COPD, and how a small percentage of people had a genetic condition [of Alpha-1],” she says. “Well, the doctor, pulmonologist and nurse were all there, and when they got the results back, they told me I had Alpha-1.”

“At one level I didn’t believe them. What I thought was, ‘I have the test results, I have the symptoms, I must have it. Maybe people from other ethnic groups can also have Alpha-1,’” she says.

At this time, Chakravorty was living in Boston, and was forced to move because of the cold winter weather. She was having trouble getting to her office on foot.

Today, Chakravorty wants people to know that they are not alone with their disease, and wants to get rid of the stigma of COPD.

“I continue to take care of myself and I still have a pretty high quality of life, but not without adjustments. I can’t always, and do everything I want to do. For example, I can’t teach aerobics or dance, but I want people to know I am still vibrant and active in other ways,” she says.

“You have to take it one step at a time, and don’t worry about what anybody else is doing. Try to do what you can. I try very hard to educate people about Alpha-1, and I will sometimes tell people more than what they want to hear,” she says. “But overall, it’s really up to you, on what you want to disclose. But whatever you decide stay involved and stay active.”

Chakravorty and a colleague are forming a COPD Coalition of Tennessee. If you are interested in learning more about their efforts, you can email her at:

Nutrition and COPD

March 16th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

This blog post was written by Joanna Murray.

When I think about nutrition and COPD, the first thing that comes to my mind is how my mom took care of herself on a daily basis. Maintaining an ideal weight was hard work for her.  It has been proven that the better you eat and take care of yourself the easier time you will have handling difficult situations; you need food for energy and to help keep up your oxygen levels. Without the right balance, your lungs have to work harder for you to breathe.

This month is the sixth month anniversary of my mother’s death.  I have finally started to come to a better understanding on how much more there is to be learned about this disease.

Maintaining your weight and exercise are two of the essential ingredients needed to help maintain lung health.  There are breathing and exercise programs specifically designed to help you.  If you are having issues with breathing, an overall exercise plan may be the last thing on your agenda.

Photo By weinnat

Exercise can benefit your breathing; it will allow you to stay as active as possible by improving your lung function.  As with any exercise program when it comes to having COPD, be sure to talk with your doctor or health care provider.

Exercise and diet will add to your quality of life; both of these will improve how well your body uses oxygen, which is essential to COPDers  because they use more energy to breathe.  Maintaining your weight will decrease the increase of your symptoms.  For me, I wish I would have known all of this. Perhaps I could have helped urge my mom to make the changes, but she was stubborn and believed she knew all she needed to.

A few pieces of valuable information I have learned about proper nutrition for those suffering from COPD are:

  • Eat daily the recommended servings from the four food groups.
  • Try eating more frequently smaller portions of meals to prevent shortness of breath
  • Ensure you have adequate fluid intake, 6-8 cups daily, which helps thin mucus secretions.
  • A helpful tip regarding dairy intake, would be to follow up with water or fruit juice to help avoiding coating the mucus already   present.

I believe that a healthy and active life style for anyone is wonderful and it could prolong anyone’s life.  In my opinion if my mom started an exercise routine when she had first been diagnosed it could have been beneficial.

I hope and pray that if you have COPD you look into adopting a healthy lifestyle.  There are so many resources out there to help you get through this disease; I can say this now because if I knew then what I know now, maybe just maybe my mom would still be here.  I love and miss her but I hope by me sharing what I have learned I can help others through COPD.

DRIVE4COPD Encouraged Dancing For COPD

February 9th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

“We didn’t choose COPD…COPD chose ‘Full Tilt Boogie,’” says Donna Lee.

The song and video that Lee is referring to is known internationally for its part in spreading awareness about COPD.

Donna Lee says “Full Tilt Boogie” is a term originating out of Texas, brought to the song-writing table from Texas A&M University.

“The title, ‘Full Tilt Boogie’ invites folks to get up and move. We thought that the video would make a fantastic COPD pulmonary rehabilitation and awareness video for folks of all ages,” Donna Lee says. “Watch the video closely. As the camera scans the floor, you are witnessing over 75 active citizens from all walks of life and all ages participating in pulmonary rehabilitation. Can you tell me which dancers are living with COPD?”

“Full Tilt Boogie” continues to excited and invite many dancers to get up and get motivated, according to Donna Lee.

“Hopefully people will continue to dance, exercise and participate. It just so happens that our lifestyles have left so many with COPD, but COPD doesn’t have to be a death sentence,” she says. “Though limited, once diagnosed and with your doctor’s care and encouragement we can continue to live active lives.”

The group is a social line dance group comprised of seniors from all over the Vegas Valley as well as Mesquite, Nevada and different cities in Utah, who meet once a month. They filmed the video in East Las Vegas, with dancers’ ages ranging from 55 to 85.

“Many people who attended this Full Tilt Boogie session danced for three hours with just two short breaks, most of the seniors having a variety of health issues,” Donna Lee says.

Full Tilt Boogie

“One lady with COPD brought her nebulizer and sat out when she became too winded. Others dealt with double knee replacements, arthroscopic surgeries, back problems, high blood pressure, heart bypass surgery and various types of cancer,” she says. “Senior line dancers are a resilient breed of people. A lot of that resilience can be attributed to the exercise they are exposed to when they attend line dance class.”

Donna Lee says line dancing not only offers physical exercise, but also mental exercise.

“’Full Tilt Boogie’ line dance increases the blood flow to your brain and to the important organs in your body. The steps are simple enough that everyone can do them and it is up tempo so everyone gets a good workout when they do it,” she says.

Donna Lee says the video, which has over 3,000 views on Youtube, is being added to playlists at radio stations worldwide, and won second place at the 2011 Las Vegas Line Dance competition. She also says it was submitted to the 2011 CMA festival (a supporter of the DRIVE4COPD campaign).

The “Full Tilt Boogie” would not be possible without these people:

  • Singer/songwriter L J Coon, L J Coon Music Publishing BMI
  • Award-winning Line Dance Instructor Sheri Hurley
  • Videographer Annie Lynn
  • All of the 75 plus Line Dancers at the East Las Vegas Community Center
  • All of the Line Dance folks worldwide that have started their own “Full Tilt Boogie” Grass Roots effort to raise COPD awareness.
  • Radio stations worldwide for adding “Full Tilt Boogie” to their playlist in an effort to get the word out and invite folks to be tested.
  • All of the folks in the Drive4COPD Campaign, Tune Up for COPD, and The 2011 CMA festival, for their very favorable acceptance of the song/video submission of “Full Tilt Boogie” for COPD awareness.

LVRS and Lung Transplant 101

January 31st, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Photo by shawnzrossi

For many COPDers, lung volume reduction surgery or lung transplantation are two topics of conversations they’ve already had with their pulmonologists. Though it might not be an option for some COPDers, others find surgery as the best route to breathing and living better with COPD. In this blog, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the two procedures and how some people prepare for the big day.

Lung Volume Reduction Surgery, LVRS, is a surgery that’s become more common recently but was developed years ago. LVRS does what it stands for: it surgically reduces the size of your lungs in order to help your lungs function better. According to the physicians who wrote the COPD Big Fat Reference Guide ®, LVRS is based on two beliefs. First is that a removal of a nonworking areas of the lungs allow less affected areas to expand into that space leading to more efficient lung function. The second belief is removing areas of the lung are over-inflated and nonworking, making the lungs smaller and more efficient.

Back in the 1990s, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) funded a study called the National Emphysema Treatment Trial, or NETT. NETT set out to find out with LVRS was in fact beneficial to patients and develop some sort of criteria for identifying COPDers who would benefit from the surgery. 1,218 individuals were selected for the trial, and about half (608) were scheduled to have LVRS. Researchers found out that, on average, COPDers with severe emphysema who underwent LVRS were more likely to breathe better and don’t face an increased risk of death for having the surgery. There were some critical risks identified, however.

Lung transplantation is a more involved approach to improving a COPDer’s lung function and is reserved for extremely severe diseases. There are strict criteria a COPDer must follow in order to be eligible, including not having any other diseases and have a stable enough mental state to tolerate the stress surrounding the surgery. There are many decisions to be made, including getting a single or double lung transplant.

Everyone who is qualified for a lung transplant needs to get on a list to wait for a donor (read about the list on If you’re already on the list for transplant, check out this handy checklist from the Cleveland Clinic to help you get ready for the big day.

Though the surgery can be intense, many COPDers have found it to give them their lives back. These two procedures aren’t for everyone but talk to your doctor if you feel this might help you.

Georgtown To Idaho Springs – on 16 liters of Oxygen

December 17th, 2010 | Author: Katelyn Turner

This blog post was written by COPDer Roxlyn Cole. Read more…

COPD and Yoga

August 13th, 2010 | Author: Katelyn Turner

This blog post was written by COPDer Sharon Ring, who lives in the UK. Read more…

COPDer Mary Radawski: Motivated By Her Friends

July 23rd, 2010 | Author: Katelyn Turner

A year and a half ago in late December, Mary Radawski went to the hospital Read more…