Mary Walsh to Younger Canadians: COPD Still on the Rise - Get Tested!

The earlier COPD is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

OTTAWA, Nov. 18 /CNW/ - COPD is no joke to Canadian comedian Mary Walsh. "It's shocking that so few Canadians know about COPD considering it's the fourth leading cause of death in this country," says Mary Walsh, spokesperson for The Canadian Lung Association. Walsh, best known for her work on This Hour has 22 Minutes, is helping raise awareness about COPD, a serious breathing disease that has affected three of her family members along with hundreds of thousands of other Canadians.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is still on the rise in Canada. COPD is the new term for emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is growing in prevalence among younger Canadian baby boomers.(i) In fact, according to research by The Canadian Lung Association, one in seven Canadians aged 45 to 49 may currently be living with COPD,(ii) and many more may be unaware they even have it.

"People may think that feeling short of breath is a normal sign of aging, but it's not," says Walsh. COPD symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue and frequent lung infections. "If you have any trouble with your breathing, go to your doctor and insist on a breathing test." COPD is diagnosed by spirometry, a simple test that measures how much air you can hold and move out of your lungs.

The good news is that COPD is treatable. "There are many treatments that will help individuals with COPD. The earlier the diagnosis, the more chance of reducing the longer term effects of the condition. High risk people (smokers over the age of 40 years) should be actively screened, so that COPD can be caught earlier and better managed," says Dr. Roger Goldstein, a respirologist at West Park Healthcare Centre in Toronto, Ontario, who is a spokesperson for the Canadian Lung Association and a member of the Canadian Thoracic Society.

Early treatment can reduce the decline in lung function and improve quality of life.(iii) A recent study published in The Lancet found that treatment of COPD should begin at an early stage of the disease to slow down its progression.(iv)

    Visit to:

    Learn more about COPD

    Test your knowledge of COPD - take The Lung Association's COPD Quiz

    Watch Mary Walsh's video about COPD

About COPD

COPD is a serious respiratory disease that causes lung damage and obstructs, or blocks the airways. The main symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath and having a hard time doing regular activities. COPD is sometimes referred to as emphysema or chronic bronchitis and is primarily caused by smoking; however, about 10-20 % of COPD cases are caused by other factors e.g. air pollution, lung infections and genetic disorder. It is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. People living with COPD experience flare-ups - times when symptoms get significantly worse. These flare-ups, or "lung attacks" are just as deadly as heart attacks.

World COPD Day in Canada

World COPD Day 2009 is on November 18 and this year, Mary Walsh has joined forces with the Canadian Lung Association to help raise awareness of COPD and the importance of early diagnosis.

    The Coast 2 Coast Challenge: Canadians log over 37 000 kilometres to
    raise awareness of COPD

COPD patients and supporters just took part in The Lung Association's second annual Coast 2 Coast Challenge, a virtual trek across Canada to raise awareness about COPD. The Lung Association invited people with COPD and their supporters to track the distance they exercised from November 1st to 18th and report it to us. We tracked everyone's progress on a map of Canada. Our goal was to cross the country from Victoria, B.C. to St. John's Nfld. to Iqaluit, N.U. and then back to Victoria, B.C., a round trip of 14,000 kilometres. In fact, Coast 2 Coast Challenge participants logged an amazing 37 045 kilometres, dramatically surpassing our goal!

Visit to see a map showing our progress in the Coast 2 Coast Challenge. While you're on the site, take a look at the photos, videos, stories and tweets submitted by Canadian COPDers and supporters. brings together photos from Flikr, videos from Youtube, and tweets from Twitter, to showcase COPDers reflecting on their life with COPD.

The Canadian Lung Association (CLA)

Established in 1900, The 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 heath issues.

Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS)

The CTS ( is the medical section of The Canadian Lung Association. It advises the Association on scientific matters and programs, including policies regarding support for research and education. The CTS provides a forum whereby medical practitioners and investigators may join in the study of lung diseases, develop clinical practice guidelines based on best science, and provide continuing education to medical and healthcare professionals.

The CTS aims to maintain the highest professional and scientific standards in all aspects of respiratory diseases through leadership, education, research and communication.

Canadian Respiratory Health Professionals (CRHP)

The CRHP ( is the Lung Association's multidisciplinary allied health professional section. The CRHP welcomes nurses, respiratory therapists, cardio-pulmonary physiotherapists, pharmacists, and other allied health professional working in the respiratory field.

Canadian COPD Alliance (CCA)

The CCA ( is a national forum designed to facilitate discussion, exchange of information, cooperation and collaboration among groups working in the area of COPD.

The CCA co-hosts the annual Canadian Respiratory Conference (CRC) with The Canadian Thoracic Society, The Canadian Respiratory Health Professionals, and The Canadian Lung Association.

B-roll and a 30-second PSA featuring Mary Walsh are available in broadcast (TV and radio) and web formats via the following link:

For a photo of Mary Walsh, please follow these instructions:

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at Images are free to accredited members of the media/

    (i)   COPD and Smoking: Canada's Ticking Time Bomb. 2007 Leger Marketing
          research - consumer poll.
    (ii)  COPD and Smoking: Canada's Ticking Time Bomb. 2007 Leger Marketing
          research - consumer poll.
    (iii) What is COPD? Canadian Lung Association website. Accessed on
          October 22. Available at
    (iv)  Chan, Dr. Charlie, Kaplan, Dr. Alan G. Managing Chronic Obstructive
          Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in the Canadian Clinical Setting.
          Presented at the 2008 Family Medicine Forum. (powerpoint

SOURCE The Lung Association

For further information: For further information: media representatives may contact: Jennifer Schenkel, Director of Communications and Marketing, The Lung Association, (613) 569-6411, ext. 251; Lauren Joakim, Senior Consultant, Fleishman-Hillard, (416) 598-5799

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