Lung disease claims the lives of almost four million people a year, yet worryingly there is a lack if understanding and concern about this, with 60 per cent of people never having had their lungs tested.
New data released by the Fourm of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) to coincide with World Spirometry Day today also indicated that people are far more worried about cancer, heart disease and stroke.
This lack of concern is even more striking as data shows that while the other major diseases have been decreasing as a cause of death in the last three decades, death due to COPD has doubled in the same period.
The Chair of FIRS and President of the European Respiratory Society (ERS), Klaus Rabe, said:
“Chronic lung disease is a major Health issue but – as the FIRS poll shows – its burden continues to be underestimated. There is widespread ignorance not only around the seriousness of lung disease but about what can be done to prevent it. As countries across the world celebrate the achievements of the world’s best athletes – we feel the time is right to focus on how we can all improve our lung Health.
“Respiratory physicians understand more and more about the importance of exercise but our research confirms ignorance is still out there. Even gentle walking for those with severe disease can help in improving lung capacity and general well being and we must get this message through to patients”.
As well as underestimating the impact of lung disease, the public poll reveals a lack of understanding about how to manage it. Despite the fact that simple lung tests like spirometry can help detect conditions such as COPD and asthma before the onset of debilitating symptoms, the survey revealed that the majority of respondents have never had their lungs tested.
The research also revealed that 80 per cent thought that those with lung disease were unable to undertake even moderate exercise like swimming or going to the gym. However, in reality, physical activity can help to manage and improve the symptoms of lung disease such as breathlessness, even in the most severe cases.
Monica Fletcher, Chair of the European Lung Foundation, who has co-ordinated the global initiative of WSD, said:
“World Spirometry Day provides a point in time for people to understand the importance of getting their lungs tested. Early diagnosis for lung conditions can lead to more effective interventions which, in turn can help alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.”
As Britain gears up to the Olympics, FIRS is using the new data to urge people to get their lungs tested and to get active to improve their lung Health. What’s more, with only 27 per cent of those already suffering from a lung disease claiming to have discussed the importance of physical activity with their doctor, FIRS is encouraging current patients to approach healthcare practitioners to talk about the benefits of exercise.
On World Spirometry Day, and throughout the build up to the Olympics, doctors and nurses will be taking to the streets across the globe to run public lung testing events to raise awareness of spirometry testing. The test, which usually takes less than 10 minutes, is being described by doctors as “the MOT for your lungs” to remind people just how critical regular testing is.
Here are 12 reasons for taking a spirometry (lung) test:
If you identify with any of the reasons below, take a spirometry test to check out your lung health:
1. You are, or have been a smoker
2. You have been more breathless in recent years
3. You can’t walk up the stairs without experiencing a shortness of breath
4. You can’t exercise as well as you used to
5. You are worried about your Performance during sports and exercise
6. You have had a cough for many months or years (e.g a smoker’s cough)
7. You tend to wheeze in recent years
8. You cough up mucus (phlegm) even when you haven’t got a cold
9. You have previously been given treatment (e.g. an inhaler) for a lung disease
10. You have worries about your lung health
11. You feel as though you're not getting enough air
12. You experience pain when breathing in or out