NASCAR racer Danica Patrick is driving awareness for COPD

Danica Patrick, NASCAR driver, is using her celebrity status to highlight a major health epidemic.

For Patrick, also a model and advertising spokeswoman, this one is personal. She lost her grandmother to COPD a few years ago.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is one of the most common lung diseases, killing one American every four minutes.

“This disease is deadly and dangerous because it’s progressive and because you’re lungs deteriorate over time,” said Patrick.

“Over time it is harder and harder to breath until it finally feels like you’re breathing through a straw."

Patrick, who became the first woman to win an Indy Car Race in Japan 300 in 2008, is encouraging women to get tested for COPD through an online campaign www.drive4COPD.com

Patrick, who is one of a select few sports women who is earning more than $10 million in endorsements, will appear in an advertisement during the Super Bowl this coming Sunday speaking out against COPD and outlining it’s preventative measures.

About 24 million people suffer from COPD but only half are ever diagnosed.

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