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World COPD Day

18 November 2009 - 12:05am

The British Lung Foundation has sounded a warning to high risk groups over chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The charity said many smokers and ex-smokers were 'ignorant' about COPD when they ought to be seeking medical advice for symptoms.

The BLF released a survey of around 400 current or ex smokers about their lung health.

Free lung function tests provided by the British Lung Foundation. (photo: Alexis Maryon)

Survey results of lung function test take-up

It found almost three quarters had not considered having a lung function test despite over a fifth having one or more of the symptoms of COPD.

COPD, which is a term for lung conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is the fifth biggest killer in the UK.

Symptoms include persistent cough, breathlessness, wheezy chest, recurrent chest infections, excess phlegm and chest pain.

In the survey, almost two in ten (19 per cent) smokers and ex-smokers said they felt breathless walking up a slight hill.

Many don't know they have COPD

The BLF said that almost two million people may have COPD without knowing it.

It said early diagnosis and treatment can slow progression of the illness so persuading people with symptoms to seek medical advice was vital.

The charity is holding free lung function testing as part of a campaign to mark World COPD Day today - an annual event organised by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) to improve awareness and care of COPD around the world.

www.lunguk.org/loveyourlungs

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