- Check your lungs’ health

June 21, 2013 - As EPHA reported on 10 June, the European COPD Coalition organised a free spirometry test in the European Commission with the objective of raising awareness on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which is a treatable but not curable deadly chronic disease.

Spirometry is the most common lung function test which consists in blowing through a mouthpiece as fast and far as possible, in a time limit, with the aim to empty the lungs. It is a simple and quick test that, in 10 minutes, reveals whether the lungs and airways are obstructed or not.

World spirometry day is a worldwide event that takes place every 2 years in June. ECC ran this event to mark the day and highlight the importance of early diagnosis.

- What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – COPD – is a treatable but irreversible long-term respiratory condition which affects the lungs and airways, making it difficult to move air in and out of the lungs. The main risk factors are environmental exposure to certain irritating particles, genetic factors and, above all, tobacco consumption: 80 to 90% of the COPD diagnosed patients are smokers, the reason why this disease is often wrongly qualified as the “normal” and “expected” smoker’s cough. COPD is more prevalent in the lower socio-economic groups and contributes to health inequality.

- Why take action on COPD now?

The lungs of people affected by COPD have a decreased ability to transfer oxygen to the blood and the rest of the body, which negatively affects all organs and the person’s general health. This results in a number of comorbidities, such as lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease or diabetes; due to the nature of the disease the rate of associated mental health problems is also high, fear, anxiety and depression being common among patients suffering from COPD.

- COPD, earlier caught, earlier treated

COPD affects up to 10% of the adult population in Europe and according to available data, it kills between 200,000 and 300,000 people every year. Its economic burden, without taking into account the loss of productivity days, reaches €10.3 billion per year and no EU Member State is immune to the health, social or financial consequences of this disease. However, despite being the 5th biggest killer worldwide, COPD remains largely unknown and an estimated 75% of the people suffering from it have yet to be diagnosed. Unless action is taken, COPD is expected to become the 3rd leading cause of death worldwide by 2030. Yet COPD is largely preventable and its evolution can be stopped when the disease is diagnosed and treated at its early stages. It is therefore of utmost importance to run lung tests for population at risks, mainly long term smokers, above the age of 40.

- Highlighting the usefulness of lung testing in the European Commission

Healthcare professionals performed spirometry test to EU Commission staff in the ground level of the Commission’s headquarter building, the Berlaymont. Numbers show that the event was very successful: at the end of the day, more than 250 people took this important step and tested their lungs’ health. This included high level EU decision makers, such as Loukas Georgiou, Health Attaché at the Permanent Representation of Cyprus to the EU; a former member of the Cypriot EU Presidency Team; and indeed the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg who, by taking the test, highlighted the need for further early diagnosis and for preventing the occurrence of COPD.

Health Commissioner Tonio Borg “I have done it, it is easy and quick, so everyone can do it”.

(Source of the photo © COPD website)

- COPD needs the attention of all

This lung capacity assessment is part of awareness raising campaign of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and run by ECC. COPD, as a deadly chronic disease, and a factor of co-morbidity need the attention of the widest public health community together with EU politicians who can, together, design information and prevention measures, care systems, and research projects that ultimately will decrease the occurrence of COPD.

- EPHA related articles

Last modified on June 21 2013.