UT Health Science Center at Tyler pulmonary physicians draw on their expert knowledge to help woman with COPD

Thursday, August 28, 2008

For Senior Expo tab, Longview News-Journal, Sept. 8, 2008

If they’re working properly, it’s easy to ignore your lungs. They expand and contract as you breathe, fueling your body with oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide, the waste product created by your body’s metabolism.

While you may take your lungs for granted, not everyone can.

Shirley Vincent of Jasper knows what it’s like to struggle for every breath.

Ten years ago she was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of illnesses such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma that blocks airways and interferes with breathing.

Mrs. Vincent, a longtime smoker who quit in 2002, kept her disease under control until last year. Then she came down with pneumonia twice in five months.

“This time I wasn’t able to find anyone who could help me. I was getting depressed, feeling sick all the time. I saw a doctor in Beaumont, and he told me I’d just have to live with it,” she says.

When she heard how a physician at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler had helped another woman with lung disease, Mrs. Vincent wasted no time in making an appointment at UTHSCT.

Months after that first visit, Mrs. Vincent says her health has definitely improved. “I can breathe better. I’m short of breath, and I’ll always be short of breath. But I used to not be able to walk across the room,” she says.

When disease or injury interferes with breathing, it can lead to serious illness and death.

Lung disease is the number three killer in the United States, responsible for one in six deaths, according to the American Lung Association. More than 35 million Americans live with lung diseases such as asthma, COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer.

If you have one of these conditions, you need the experienced pulmonary physicians at the only academic medical center in the Southwest that specializes in lung disease: UT Health Science Center at Tyler.

Six of UTHSCT’s pulmonary physicians have spent more than 20 years treating people with lung disease. And the 18 UTHSCT physicians who deal with lung disease have a total of more than 400 years of experience.

With doctors who have served pulmonary fellowships at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the National Institutes of Health, and the Baylor College of Medicine, UT Health Science Center’s expertise in diagnosing and treating lung diseases is unmatched in this region.

Board-certified specialists in areas such as adult and pediatric pulmonology, interventional pulmonology, oncology, sleep medicine, radiology, and pulmonary pathology work together to ensure patients receive the best treatment possible.

Patients come from all over the United States – and beyond its borders – to see UTHSCT physicians who offer personalized care and advanced treatment for asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, and lung cancer.

These physicians work with knowledgeable respiratory therapists, technicians, and other support staff with decades of experience in their fields.

And UTHSCT’s expertise in lung disease isn’t limited to treatment.

About 30 scientists conduct major research into the causes and treatment of lung scarring, the development of a better tuberculosis vaccine, the role of inflammation in lung disease, and new ways to treat lung cancer.

Grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have funded tens of millions of dollars worth of lung disease research at UTHSCT.

And organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Chest Foundation, and the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute also have generously supported lung disease research at the Health Science Center.

For 60 years, generations of experienced and caring physicians at UTHSCT have been treating people with lung diseases.

Building on knowledge from its beginnings as a tuberculosis hospital in the late 1940s, UT Health Science Center at Tyler has grown to become the region’s premier medical center when it comes to lung disease treatment and research.

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