Three days a week, 69-year-old James Downey of Rougemont hits the gym at Duke Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation. He walks 1.5 miles around the track, rides the stationary bike; walks the stairs and works out his arms and legs.
That’s a major accomplishment for Downey, who was diagnosed 14 years ago with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The lung condition is caused by years of damage (typically from smoking), and is characterized by wheezing, coughing, extreme shortness of breath and frequent lung infections.
Downey was a smoker for 55 years, and developed the lung diseases - emphysema and chronic bronchitis – that comprise COPD. “After I got emphysema, I kept smoking but it got too hard, so I quit. I just made up my mind that it’s something I’ve got to do and I did it all on my own.”