If you heard that Danica Patrick was driven you might think it was a reference to the fact that she's a famous NASCAR Nationwide Series race car driver. She's come a long way from IndyCar Rookie of the Year. Patrick was the first woman to win an IndyCar race. She's been named Most Popular Driver four times.
But "driven" also applies to her work with DRIVE4COPD.
Patrick has some personal experience with the heartbreak chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can bring to a family. Her grandmother died at the early age of 61 from loss of lung function. She remembers her grandmother in her wheelchair, needing to be given oxygen, wearing an oxygen mask. Patrick was only 19 years old when her grandmother passed away.
When DRIVE4COPD approached Patrick two years ago, she jumped at the opportunity to make a difference. In a phone interview, Patrick expressed her belief that as an athlete it is vital to have a passion. Her involvement was launched at the Daytona 2010.
Patrick gives this advice to anyone experiencing problems like being out of breath, or coughing up phlegm. COPD is a condition that will not go away on its own, and will only get worse without treatment. While these symptoms don't necessarily indicate COPD, they are good reason to see a doctor.
Patrick said, "Don't ignore it. You can die before you're 70 years old." She went on to say, "It affects your whole family."
Her grandfather took care of her grandmother's oxygen, making sure the line didn't get kinked, keeping the mask on her grandmother so she could breathe.
Referring to seeking medical attention, Patrick issued this plea. "If you can't do it for yourself, do it for your family."
There are two types of COPD. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are conditions that make it hard to breathe as less air flows into and out of the airways.
Chronic bronchitis leads to inflammation in the airways. This causes the airways to become constricted. Emphysema damages air sacs in the lungs, inhibiting air exchange.
In the United States, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death.