SOURCE: St. Luke's - Roosevelt Hospital Center

April 30, 2008 11:49 ET

St. Luke's - Roosevelt Hospital Supports the Alpha-1 Foundation in First Annual George Washington Bridge Walk for Lung Disease

Key Hospital Lung Specialists to Be On-Hand for the May 10th Walk

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - April 30, 2008) - The James P. Mara Center for Lung Disease at St. Luke's - Roosevelt Hospital, founded by Dr. Gerard Turino, has joined hands with the Alpha-1 Foundation to raise money for Alpha-1 research with the first-ever Walk over the George Washington Bridge scheduled for Saturday, May 10th 2008 at 10:00am. The nearly mile and a half Walk will start on the Manhattan side and conclude in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Being called the "First Annual Alpha-1 George Washington Bridge Walk," all friends and families are welcome to join the Walk to fight Alpha-1, a common genetic disorder that leads to early emphysema especially in smokers. The condition is caused by the lack of a protective enzyme inhibitor in the lungs. Cigarette smoke destroys the enzyme inhibitor and accelerates loss of lung function. People with the condition can develop emphysema as early as in their 40s. Unfortunately, Alpha-1 is often not diagnosed until it's too late. Specific targeted treatment of the deficiency is available so it is important to diagnose the condition as soon as possible with a simple blood test.

"Even with all of the warnings regarding dangers of smoking, people continue to smoke," said Dr. Edward Eden, Chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at St. Luke's - Roosevelt. "We need to re-emphasize time and time again that smoking kills so this annual Walk for Alpha-1 research will help not only with the funding of the research, but also to reach the millions who cannot quit the habit."

Scheduled to attend the Walk, specialized pulmonary physicians, including Dr. Eden, plus personnel from the Alpha-1 Foundation will be there to answer questions and speak to attendees about their personal experience with smoking. According to the Alpha-1 Foundation, there are about 100,000 people with Alpha-1 (ZZ) in the United States. Another deficient gene combination is SZ, although people with this gene combination are less likely to get lung or liver problems than those with two Z genes. Approximately 15 million Americans carry one copy of the deficient gene (S or Z).

"This awareness event shall focus on the importance of early diagnosis and we encourage friends and family to join us in this first-ever Alpha-1 George Washington Bridge Walk," said John W. Walsh, President & CEO of the Alpha-1 Foundation. "Alpha-1 is the most significant genetic risk factor for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which the fourth leading cause of death in America and major cause of disability. The American Thoracic Society and European Respiratory Society recommend that all individuals with COPD be tested for Alpha-1."

Registration is $10 with a suggested minimum pledge of $25 per person. Pledges are gladly waived for hardship. Lunch will be provided in Fort Lee. Alphas, family, friends, anyone that can cover the pledge and registration are welcome. Organizers are asking attendees how many plan to walk and how many will join for lunch.

About the Alpha-1 Foundation

The Alpha-1 Foundation is a not-for-profit Florida corporation founded in 1995 by John Walsh, Susan Stanley and Sandy Lindsey, three individuals diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AAT Deficiency or Alpha-1). The Foundation is dedicated to providing the leadership and resources that will result in increased research, improved health, worldwide detection, and a cure for Alpha-1. The majority of the Board of Directors are either diagnosed with Alpha-1 or have a family member diagnosed with Alpha-1. People identified with Alpha-1 most commonly have two Z genes (ZZ).

About The James P. Mara Center for Lung Disease at St. Luke's - Roosevelt Hospital Center

Founded in December 1998 by Gerard M. Turino, MD, Director of Research Programs, the vision of the James P. Mara Center for Lung Disease in New York is to increase community awareness, improve patient education and advance treatment of lung disease through basic science and clinical research. The mission is to serve individuals with asthma and chronic lung diseases associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. COPD is a classification of conditions affecting the airways of the lungs. Such conditions include chronic asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

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