Landmark public health campaign DRIVE4COPD has kicked off a high-profile social media competition led by DRIVE4COPD Celebrity Ambassadors Danica Patrick and Patty Loveless to see who can get the most people screened for risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) during the two weeks leading up to the Great American Screen Off on November 4, 2011.

In the two-week, head-to-head social media contest, Danica Patrick is teaming with NASCAR to take on Grammy Award-winning country music star Patty Loveless and the Country Music Association (CMA). CMA is a DRIVE4COPD partnering organization and DRIVE4COPD is the Official Health Initiative of NASCAR. Using Twitter, e-mails to fans, Facebook and other tools at their fingertips, each team will encourage their fans and followers to take the screener, share it with loved ones, and educate others about COPD, which affects an estimated 24 million Americans.

“Last year the Great American Screen Off took on four cities to see where we could get the most people screened. This year we’re going further and taking it nationwide to help find the millions who may be at risk for COPD and don’t know it,” said Patrick, whose grandmother suffered from COPD. “My friendly competition with Patty is about making a difference and motivating people to take that first step to find out if they may be at risk, and it can be done right in the privacy of their own home.”

COPD includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both. It kills more people in the United States each year than breast cancer and diabetes combined, and is the only major leading cause of death that is on the rise; yet as many as half of those who may have the disease remain undiagnosed. People age 35+ are encouraged to log onto DRIVE4COPD.COM to take a five-question screener to determine their risk for this progressive disease and share the results with their healthcare professional.

The Great American Screen Off

The social media competition is part of a series of activities taking place to heighten awareness of COPD, individual risk and the burden on our nation. The competition will culminate on November 4, 2011, the official date of the Second Annual Great American Screen Off, which is believed to be the largest single day dedicated to screening for risk and raising awareness of COPD.

On this one-day wake-up call to inform the public about the importance of early COPD screening and detection, the DRIVE4COPD partnering organizations are encouraging all Americans to wear the color orange – the new official color of COPD – to remind others to be screened and to help heighten awareness. On this day, men and women aged 35 or older are encouraged to join the more than 2 million Americans already screened to see if they may be at risk for COPD.

“Orange was officially named the color of COPD awareness at a Washington, D.C. Congressional Briefing earlier this month,” said Patrick. “Together with the U.S. COPD Coalition (USCC) we encouraged policymakers, healthcare professionals, organizations and the general public to get involved in the movement and encourage their constituents to get involved in the second annual Great American Screen Off.”

Partnering organizations and retailers across the country are supporting the movement with local activities. Throughout the month of November, DRIVE4COPD will work with pharmacies across the country to incorporate the screener into their wellness clinics and flu shot programs. Respiratory therapist members of the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) are adopting organizations across the country to bring COPD education and screening to their employees, customers and members.

Find out more here.

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