November 18, 2013

Knocking the Wind out of Australians

More than a million Australians live with a chronic lung disease called COPD.

November 20 is World COPD Day when Australia takes a moment to emphasise the positive and meaningful actions people can take to improve their lung health.

The Director of Lung Foundation Australia’s National COPD Program Elizabeth Harper said the disease has a significant impact on patients and their families’ quality of life.

“In fact, one in seven Australians forty years or older have COPD and half of them who are showing early symptoms don’t even know they have it,” Ms Harper said.

“It is important to recognise the risk factors and symptoms of COPD so that you can get an early diagnosis,” she said.

“Once diagnosed, you can start appropriate treatment and begin to slow down lung deterioration.”

Ms Harper said COPD was the second leading cause of avoidable hospital admissions yet fewer than one in every one hundred patient visits to their GP was about COPD, compared to diabetes which was just as common and managed at one in every twenty-five patient appointments.

She said the early stages of COPD were often unrecognized as many people discounted symptoms such as breathlessness, chronic cough, and bringing up phlegm as a normal part of getting older or as a result of smoking.

“While there is no cure for COPD, there are treatments available to help people at all stages of the disease.  Early diagnosis gives people the best chance to seek appropriate management to slow the progression of disease so they can stay well for longer and out of hospital,” she said.

“We have to get people talking and thinking about their lung health which is why we’re promoting community activities across the country this World COPD Day.”

World COPD Day activities taking place around the country include:

  • Catch Your Breath Community Walks
  • Emerald city community event
  • FREE lung screening in the community setting
  • Awareness campaign/s in partnership with GPs, Medicare Locals and community pharmacy
  • Information stands in public places

To find out more visit http://worldcopdday.lungfoundation.com.au, email enquiries@lungfoundation.com.au or call 1800 654 301.