Today (Nov. 18) marks World COPD Day organized by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) to improve awareness and care of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) around the world.

The theme of World COPD Day this year will again be “Breathless not Helpless!” GOLD chose this theme to emphasize that effective treatments are available to help those with COPD feel better and live more actively.

GOLD also expects that many organizers will address the ongoing story of the H1N1 influenza virus, which, as a respiratory infection, has particular import for COPD patients, according to the GOLD Web site. World COPD resources, including activity planners, new reports, and guidelines are compiled by GOLD and can be found online.

A revealing new report on the state of COPD was released today by the COPD Foundation and finds that a younger group of individuals between 40 and 65 years of age living with COPD has emerged, according to a press release from the foundation.

“COPD is ‘not your grandfather’s disease’ anymore,” said Byron Thomashow, MD, medical director of New York Presbyterian Hospital and chairman of the COPD Foundation Board. “COPD has always carried a stigma that it’s an old person’s disease but data has been proving otherwise. It’s affecting younger people.”

“We expect that this report will open the eyes of our nation’s legislators and public officials,” said John Walsh, president of the COPD Foundation, in the report announcement. “This report will enhance awareness about individuals living with COPD including those who are undiagnosed, and focus on diagnosis, treatment and management, and prevention.”