June 27, 2012

2010 November 17 – Put Your Lungs To The Test On World COPD Day

Put your lungs to the test on World COPD Day and catch COPD before it catches up with you

The Australian Lung Foundation encourages all Australians to put their lungs to the test on World COPD Day tomorrow (Wednesday 17 November 2010) and make lung health a priority for all Australians.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is an umbrella term for common lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and causes shortness of breath.

It is a deadly, progressive, incurable disease of the lungs that is more common in any year than the most prevalent types of cancer, road traffic accidents, heart disease or diabetes.

William Darbishire, CEO of The Australian Lung Foundation, said that while one in five Australians over the age of 40 is affected by this deadly disease, most people have never heard of COPD and could be ignoring the symptoms.

“The Australian Lung Foundation estimates that about 2.1 million Australians have some form of COPD and 1.2 million currently live with the disease in such an advanced stage that they have already lost 50 per cent of their lung capacity,” Mr Darbishire said, “alarmingly, half of these do not know they have COPD and are, therefore, not taking the important steps to slow down its progression and preserve their quality of life.”

Roughly 70 COPD support groups across the country are holding ‘Catch Your Breath’ Walk for COPD Day events tomorrow (Wednesday) to raise awareness of Australia’s fifth biggest killer.

In partnership with The Australian Lung Foundation, some of these groups will be offering free lung health tests – known as Spirometry Tests – for people wishing to catch COPD before it catches up with them.

Lung function tests, such as the most commonly used Spirometry Test, measure how well a person breathes. These simple tests are totally painless and record how much air is breathed in and out of the lungs and how well oxygen enters the body.

Professor Christine McDonald, Deputy Chair of the COPD Coordinating Committee and Director of the Department for Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at Austin Hospital, said that while COPD has no cure, there are things people can do to breathe easier, keep out of hospital and improve their quality of life.

“Early diagnosis is crucial for improving the quality of life for people with COPD. Acting on your symptoms early can make a real difference to your lung health long-term. If you are experiencing shortness of breath during your regular activities or an ongoing coughing, visit your doctor for a lung function test now,” Professor McDonald said.

In the meantime, go to The Australian Lung Foundation’s website at www.lungfoundation.com.au and complete the two-minute Lunch Health Checklist – an online educational tool that encourages early diagnosis of COPD and allows people with respiratory symptoms to better understand their lung health.

The Lung Health Checklist allows people to better understand their lung health and, if necessary, share the results with their healthcare provider.

“Together, we can make lung health a priority for all Australians,” she said.

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MEDIA: To interview William Darbishire, Professor Christine McDonald, or a person affected by lung disease, please contact Melissa Pizzato, Marketing and PR Manager, The Australian Lung Foundation, (07) 3251 3646 and 0449 089 514. 


The Australian Lung Foundation is a national not-for-profit organisation committed to reducing the burden of lung disease in Australia. Its primary focus is to make lung health a priority for all in Australia. The Australia Lung Foundation was established in 1990 by a group of thoracic physicians and aims to:

  • Promote lung health

  • Empower patients, their families and carers

  • Work with clinicians to promote best practice in prevention, diagnosis and management of lung disease

  • Influence public and corporate policy on lung health, the impact of lung disease and the importance of clean air

  • Encourage and facilitate research into ling disease.

Research by The Australian Lung Foundation in September 2009 found that seven million Australians over 35 years old are at risk of lung disease. This has a dramatic impact on the quality of life for patients, their families and carers, and costs Australians billions of dollars each year.


A significant part of The Australian Lung Foundation’s work is in the area of COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. To tackle the increasing COPD epidemic in Australia, The Australian Lung Foundation is currently implementing a national COPD program. This program, under the guidance of a COPD Coordinating Committee (consisting of lung health experts from across the country) involves:

  • Developing best practice guidelines and standards for COPD diagnosis and management

  • Working to support health professionals and patients

  • Raising awareness and understanding of COPD in the community

  • Establishing LungNet – a network of affiliated patient support groups around Australia providing support to thousands of COPD patients and their carers – to support patients with COPD.