Canadian Lung Association urges smokers to quit and to better manage
their lung health
OTTAWA, Jan. 17 /CNW/ - Up to 79 per cent of Canadians with chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) avoid everyday activities, such as
playing with their grandkids or even walking up stairs, according to
the Quit Now - Breathe Better Survey, a new Canadian Lung Association survey released just in time for
National Non-Smoking Week.
"Thousands of people are missing out because they do not understand
COPD, or they are not even aware they have the disease," says Dr. Darcy
Marciniuk, professor of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and
Chair of the Canadian Thoracic Society COPD Committee, the medical
section of the Canadian Lung Association.
COPD, also known as chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema, is a chronic,
progressive lung disease usually caused by smoking, but can also be
caused by inherited conditions or occupational exposures. About
750,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with the disease1, and anyone who has smoked and had frequent respiratory symptoms
(cough, shortness of breath, phlegm) or has frequent lung infections,
could be at risk for developing COPD.
The survey found that 17 per cent of Canadians at risk for the disease
do not believe COPD is as serious as other chronic illnesses like heart
disease and diabetes, but in reality it is the fourth leading cause of
death in Canada.2
Lung attacks or "COPD flare-ups" are also the main cause of
hospitalization from chronic medical conditions in Canada, according to
the Canadian Thoracic Society. COPD flare-ups are sudden and sustained
worsening of symptoms that can lead to hospitalization, restricted
mobility and shortness of breath, or even death.
The effects of smoking: body and lifestyle
Denise Bedard was diagnosed with COPD at the age of 42. The Nova Scotia
hairdresser had been smoking since the age of 13 and struggled with the
smoking addiction for many years - until she saw the real effect both
her habit, and the disease caused by it, had on her body and lifestyle.
"Like so many people I didn't give much thought to the effect smoking
was having on my health. That is, until I couldn't work anymore because
of my COPD," says Bedard "Now that I see what I am doing to myself I am
determined to quit smoking.
Know the symptoms
According to the Quit Now - Breathe Better Survey, half of at-risk Canadians polled (51 per cent) have already
experienced one or more of the common symptoms of COPD, such as
persistent cough, fatigue, phlegm (mucous) and shortness of breath. In
current smokers, 74 per cent have experienced one or more symptoms.
Yet the survey also revealed 39 per cent of smokers actually avoid
seeking medical advice for some of their COPD symptoms because they
fear they are the consequence of smoking.
"The key to treating COPD and slowing the progression of the disease is
to catch it early and treat it right away, which is why it is so
important for anyone who has these symptoms to see their doctor and ask
about spirometry, a simple breathing test," says Dr. Marciniuk. "If
patients learned to properly manage their disease sooner and more
regularly, they could stop missing out on the everyday activities they
love. There is so much we can do help these patients."
The Canadian Lung Association offers help to the thousands of Canadians
looking to make better respiratory decisions.
Quit smoking -- Beat the addiction
Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps you can take to
prevent COPD. The Canadian Lung Association offers support for those
who want quit smoking, by providing information on how to quit, and
referrals to local quit programs and support groups.
Make the right lifestyle choices
Join a pulmonary rehabilitation program, a special class that teaches exercise and nutrition, can help you cope
with COPD and how to conserve your energy in your day-to-day
Monitor your health
Speak with your health care provider regularly and update them with your
symptoms and disease management goals. Also, ask you health care
provider to develop an action plan that you can follow to help manage
Maintain your medication routine
Taking your medications as prescribed is essential helping to manage
COPD, and potentially slowing disease progression. The survey reveals
that nearly one in three (35 per cent) Canadians diagnosed with COPD do
not always take their medication as prescribed by their physician and
one in 10 (12 per cent) do not always keep their rescue medication up
In fact, 43 per cent of respondents are not even aware COPD can be
managed with medications. It is important to speak with your physician
to understand when medication should be taken and the risks of missing
Other findings from the Quit Now - Breathe Better Survey revealed:
53 per cent do not speak with their doctor about their COPD symptoms
because they don't think it's anything serious
27 per cent of diagnosed and at risk Canadians who have not seen a
doctor about their symptoms say they know their doctor is just going to
tell them to stop smoking
17 per cent of diagnosed and at risk Canadians who have not seen a
doctor about their symptoms don't think there are serious consequences
related to any of their COPD symptoms
A Video News Release will be available via satellite on Monday January 17, 2011
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About The Canadian Lung Association
Established in 1900, The Canadian Lung Association is one of Canada's
oldest and most respected health charities, and the leading national
organization for science-based information, research, education,
support programs, and advocacy on lung health issues. www.lung.ca.
To learn more about COPD and quitting smoking, talk to your health-care
provider. To speak to a certified respiratory educator, please call The
Canadian Lung Association's Helpline at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864).
About The Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS)
CTS is the medical section of the Canadian Lung Association (CLA). The
CTS promotes lung health by supporting the respiratory community
through leadership, collaboration, research, education and advocacy,
and by promoting the best respiratory practices in Canada. The CTS
advises the CLA on scientific matters and collaborates with it on
achieving its vision of "all people free of lung disease."
About the Quit Now - Breathe Better Survey
The Canadian Lung Association commissioned Leger Marketing to survey
Canadians at risk of developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
(COPD) to gain a better understanding of their attitudes and
behaviours. Leger Marketing conducted an online survey of 806
Canadians at risk for or diagnosed with COPD to determine their
awareness of COPD and treatment of their disease. 700 of the 806 were
classified as 'at risk' by self identifying with one or more of the
following: past smoker, current smoker, history of chronic bronchitis,
suffer from emphysema, live with a moderate to heavy smoker, work /
have worked in an environment with a high proportion of air pollution.
106 of the 806 Canadians said they had been diagnosed with COPD.
The Leger poll and public awareness campaign were made possible through
an unrestricted educational grant from GlaxoSmithKline Inc.
1 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey from Stats Canada, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2010002/article/11273-eng.htm
2 Canadian Lung Association, The Human and Economic Burden of COPD: A Leading Cause of Hospital
Admission in Canada, 2010
SOURCE Canadian Lung Association
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