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COPD Day: Early diagnosis is key to stop rising death toll from lung disease - Liz Lynne

November 16, 2010 12:55 PM
Originally published by Liz Lynne

LibDem Euro MP Liz Lynne has backed calls by campaigners from the British Lung Foundation and the Breath Easy alliance for more action against killer lung diseases and more testing to get early diagnosis.

The West Midlands MEP spoke out to mark Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day tomorrow November 17th, which is run by the British Lung Foundation and a global alliance of charities campaigning for people suffering with chronic lung disease, the 5th biggest killer in the UK.

COPD is an umbrella term for a group of lung diseases that include chronic bronchitis, emphysema and small airways disease which cause blockages in the respiratory system.

Liz Lynne MEP, First Vice President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in the European Parliament and Co-Chair of the Intergroup on Ageing, has long campaigned on better co-ordination to fight serious diseases. Speaking at the European Parliament today, Liz Lynne said:

"Lung disease is the only major cause of death whose incidence is rising, especially among women, whose lungs are more vulnerable to damage caused by smoking or pollution than men's.

"COPD is projected to become the third biggest killer in Britain and worldwide by 2020, partly because of a historic increase in the number of women who smoke and in air pollution. It kills even more people every year than breast cancer, bowel cancer and prostate cancer.

"At a time when money is short, we need to improve co-ordination of research and share best practice across European health services in caring for patients and researching new treatments.

"The disease has also been linked to air pollution, which is a serious problem in many major cities across Britain and Europe, so we need to redouble efforts to improve urban air quality.

"Early diagnosis is critical, so I am strongly backing this year's focus on 2010 as the Year of the Lung: Measure your Lung Health, stressing the need for people to get tested. It is estimated that 3 million people have COPD in the UK, but only 900,000 have been diagnosed.

"There are volunteer Breathe Easy support groups with lung function test kits out in their communities across Britain this week highlighting the need to get checked out. If you smoke, or if you have any concerns, get yourself tested at your surgery or health centre.

"I hope in the longer term the NHS and healthcare agencies will work as closely as possible with the Breathe Easy alliance to improve the way this disease is tackled."

ENDS

Note to editors: to mark COPD Day, the British Lung Foundation's network of Breathe Easy support groups are holding events across the country including the following in our region, on Nov 17th unless otherwise stated.

Breathe Easy Coventry will be holding an awareness stand with lung function tests at Lover Precinct.

Breathe Easy Derby serving Burton residents too will be holding an awareness stand with tests and exercises at Derby Royal Hospital.

Breathe Easy Malvern and Worcester will be holding an awareness stand and lung testing event at the St Andrew's Methodist Church on 20th November 2010 between 1 - 5pm.

Breathe Easy North Staffordshire will be holding an awareness stand at the central outpatients department in NSR Infirmary, Stoke on Trent and Local Shopping Centre on 18th November.

Breathe Easy Redditch and Bromsgrove will be holding an awareness stand in Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.

Breathe Easy Solihull will be holding an awareness stand with lung age and spirometry test at Solihull Library.

Breathe Easy Sutton Coldfield and District will have an awareness stand at Mere Green Community Centre Library.

Breathe Easy Walsall will be holding an information stand at Manor Hospital.

Pulmonary Rehab Fun Day will be held at Shrewsbury Hospital on the 17th November 2010.

Facts about COPD, from the British Lung Foundation:

COPD is the 5th biggest killer in the UK and the 5th biggest killer worldwide. Every hour COPD is estimated to kill over 250 people worldwide.

COPD is the only major cause of death whose incidence is on the increase[iv] and is expected to be the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2020 (exceeded only by heart disease and stroke)

There are an estimated 3 million people with COPD in the UK, although only an estimated 900,000 (1.5% of the population) are correctly diagnosed[xi]

24,160 people in the UK died as a result of COPD in 2005. The disease kills more people every year in the UK than bowel cancer, breast cancer or prostate cancer[xiii]

COPD is the third biggest cause of respiratory death in the UK, accounting for more than one fifth (23%) of all respiratory deaths.

In 2005 COPD killed more women than breast cancer: 11,302 died of COPD, 10,969 died of breast cancer.

In the UK, the rate of COPD has been increasing nearly three times faster amongst women than men.

Women are more susceptible to developing COPD than men - their lung function worsens with less duration of smoking or intensity of smoking than that of men.

COPD is caused mainly by smoking, but also by exposure to airborne pollution, to harmful fumes or particles at home or at work, or inheriting a genetic deficiency. Some research suggests that COPD may be related to childhood lung disease