World Asthma Day draws attention to leading health concern in Ontario



    TORONTO, April 30 /CNW/ - Nearly 60 per cent of people with asthma do not
have good control of their condition thus posing a serious, but preventable
health risk to nearly one million Ontarians with asthma. In an effort to
heighten awareness about asthma - a disease that claims more than five
Canadian lives each week - The Lung Association urges communities across the
province to recognize World Asthma Day May 1, 2007.
    Asthma is a chronic breathing disorder that does not discriminate
according to age. Recent studies indicate a large proportion of the general
public is at risk of developing asthma. According to The Burden of Asthma
Report, released in September 2006 through the Institute of Clinical
Evaluative Sciences, an individual in Ontario has a 40 per cent risk of
developing asthma before they reach the age of 40. This represents significant
health care costs and has considerable economic and social impacts on the
province.
    The risk of developing asthma is greatest in childhood, with 20 per cent
of children being diagnosed with asthma by age 12. Asthma remains the number
one cause of hospital admissions and missed school days in children. Even
after childhood, people have a 16 per cent chance of developing the disease.
This underlines the importance of asthma education programs, implementing
effective interventions and disease management strategies for people with
asthma.
    "The study indicates that the prevalence of asthma and the risk for
developing the disease are high and warrants attention of the health care
system and the public," says Lisa Cicutto, RN, PhD, ACNP, CAE, University of
Toronto and one of the principal investigators of 2006 The Burden of Asthma
study. "Asthma is a potentially life-threatening disease, with serious
implications for both individuals and the greater community and deserves more
public attention than it currently receives. In most cases, asthma can be
controlled and people with asthma can live full, active lives."

    
    According to the Canadian Asthma Consensus Guidelines, asthma is
considered well controlled when:
    -   Asthma symptoms occur less than four times per week
    -   A person wakes up at night with symptoms less than once a week
    -   A child or adult rarely misses school, work or social activities
        because of asthma symptoms
    -   Asthma symptoms are usually mild
    -   The need for the blue reliever medication is less than four times per
        week (not counting using the reliever prior to exercise)
    -   Physical activity is normal
    

    "Asthma touches the lives of many Ontarians," said Health and Long-Term
Care Minister George Smitherman. "We are supporting many initiatives that help
patients and their families affected by asthma better manage this disease."
    The latest Public Service Announcement released by The Lung Association
addresses the need for better asthma control as told through the experiences
of the Ampleford family. Rick and Maureen Ampleford, of Bolton, Ontario, lost
their son Mark to asthma and agreed to share their story in the hopes of
educating others about the seriousness of the disease. Mark was athletic,
outgoing and ambitious as most men are in their twenties.
    Asthma, was never something that Mark let come between him and the sports
he loved. He considered it more of a nuisance than anything. Yet, even though
Mark's asthma was mild, it was not controlled. One evening as he was having
trouble breathing, he made the poignant choice of calling his mom instead of
an ambulance. By the time his mom convinced him to call an ambulance, it was
too late. Mark died en route to the hospital.
    "We encourage everyone to have a written asthma action plan from their
doctor," says Carole Madeley, director, Respiratory Health Programs, The Lung
Association, "because you never know when an asthma flare up might occur.
Having an action plan is an important part of managing asthma."
    The Lung Association offers a toll-free Asthma Action Helpline
(1-800-668-7682), answered by certified asthma educators who are trained to
provide asthma education and help develop an asthma care plan with callers.
Numerous age-appropriate publications and learning tools are available, all
free of charge. Additional information on asthma control can be obtained
through www.on.lung.ca or by calling the Helpline.

    ABOUT ASTHMA

    Asthma is characterized by a cough, shortness of breath, chest tightness
and wheezing, often associated with exposure to asthma triggers. Common asthma
triggers include:

    
    -   Dust and dust mites
    -   Pollens, including trees, grass and ragweed
    -   Pets and other animals
    -   Cigarette smoke
    -   Colds/ chest infections
    -   Air pollution
    -   Cold air and weather changes
    -   Moulds
    

    ABOUT THE LUNG ASSOCIATION

    The Lung Association is one of Canada's oldest voluntary, not-for-profit
health-promotion organizations. The Lung Association is concerned with the
prevention and control of asthma, chronic lung disease caused by smoking and
with air quality and its effect on lung health. The Ontario Lung Association
was incorporated in 1945, and has community offices across the province. Visit
The Lung Association online at www.on.lung.ca, or call 1-800-972-2636 for more
information.

    Through The Lung Association's Asthma Advisory Committee, regional
    spokespeople are available for interviews:

    Dr. Sharon Dell, Division of Respiratory Medicine,
    The Hospital for Sick Children
    Dr. Diane Lougheed. Respiratory Division, Queen's University
    Dr. Joe Reisman, Chief of Paediatrics,
    Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
    Hedy Ginzberg, medical director, Ontario Thoracic Society,
    The Lung Association
    Lisa Cicutto, RN, PhD, ACNP, CAE, University of Toronto

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/




For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview please contact Karen
Petcoff, (416) 275-6844, kvpet@rogers.com; Tracy Doerr, (416) 864-9911, ext.
267, tdoerr@on.lung.ca

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