Search for missing millions with killer disease

Breathe Easy Norwich is joining the British Lung Foundation’s search to find more than two million people affected by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, (COPD) one of the UK’s biggest killers. The disease kills more people every year than colon cancer, more men than prostate cancer and more women than breast cancer – but a survey by the charity reveals that most people in Norfolk have never heard of COPD and don’t know what the symptoms are.

COPD is a progressive, irreversible lung disease yet it is both preventable and treatable and early diagnosis and treatment can slow the progression of the illness.  Symptoms include a persistent cough, breathing problems, a wheezy chest, and recurrent chest infections.  More than three million people are thought to be affected by COPD yet more than two million of those are undiagnosed.

Breathe Easy Norwich will be holding a drop in COPD Information & Awareness day at East Atrium, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Wednesday 15 November 10am – 2pm.  Those who attend will be able to enter the British Lung Foundation’s national ‘Missing Millions’ Wordsearch competition based around symptoms of COPD.  The charity is hoping that its Wordsearch competition will raise awareness of COPD and save lives.

Everyone who enters the competition will receive information about the disease and could win a top prize – a holiday for two in Greece, a day at a top Spa, a top range digital camera and luxury Harrods food hampers.  People can enter at British Lung Foundation roadshows around the UK, which take place in the two weeks leading up to World COPD Day on 15 November 2006, by contacting the BLF, or via the BLF website

“We know about the impact COPD has on people’s lives”, said NNUH respiratory nurse specialist Paula Browne.  “We want everyone to enter the British Lung Foundation’s Wordsearch competition and find out more about COPD at the same time.  There are two million people out there who might have the disease and we want to catch them early enough so they can be treated”.

The competition is launched as a GfK NOP survey released today by the British Lung Foundation reveals shocking levels of ignorance amongst the general public about COPD.

The survey shows that:
• Most people (95%) in East Anglia have never heard of COPD
• Most people (86%) in East Anglia aren’t aware that it is a life-threatening disease
• Two thirds of people (66%) in East Anglia have never heard of a spirometry test, one of the main diagnostic tools for COPD

For more information, please contact the NNUH press office on 01603 287200.

Notes to Editors:

1. COPD is the umbrella term for a number of lung conditions including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  It kills more people every year than breast, bowel or prostate cancer.

2. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive, irreversible lung disease.  It is both preventable and treatable.  Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can slow the progression of the illness.

3. The UK faces a chronic lung disease time bomb.  COPD is already the fifth biggest killer in the UKi and it is the only major cause of death whose incidence is on the increaseii.

4. COPD is caused by smoking or by exposure to environmental pollution and to hazards at work such as dust, fumes and gases.  In a very small number of people it is caused by a genetic deficiency.

5. The BLF’s awareness-raising Wordsearch competition focuses on words related to symptoms and diagnosis of COPD like ‘cough’, ‘breathless’ and ‘spirometry’.  Prizes include a holiday for two in Greece, a digital camera, a spa day and luxury Christmas hampers.  The public can enter by contacting the BLF on 08458 505020, or by downloading an entry form from the BLF’s website  They can also enter at four BLF roadshows in major shopping centres around the UK (venues and dates below) in early November culminating in World COPD Day on 15 November 2006.  The roadshows will also offer lung function tests by trained technicians able to spot the early signs of COPD.

6. The British Lung Foundation is the only UK charity working for everyone affected by lung disease including COPD.  We provide support via a telephone helpline; booklets on lung diseases and related issues; a comprehensive website; BLF community nurses; and a Breathe Easy support network for anyone affected by lung disease.

7. This campaign is supported with sponsorship from Boehringer Ingelhem/Pfizer.

8. Holiday in Greece kindly donated by Kosmar Holidays.

i National Statistics (2006) Health Statistics Quarterly 30

ii Murray CJL, Lopez AD. Alternative projections of mortality and disability by cause 1990-2020: Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet 1997;349 1498-504

Tuesday 7th of November 2006 09:00:58 AM