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As Ireland's First-Ever National Lung Health Awareness Week is Launched, New Survey Reveals Lung Disease Affects One in Every Two People, Yet Awareness of Symptoms Remains Low

• Alliance calls for development of National Programme for Healthy Lungs

• Ireland has third highest death rate in Western Europe with more than 5,500 people dying from lung disease each year

• Public urged to have their lung health checked regularly by their doctor

• Roadshow to offer free lung testing and feature BodyWorks on Tour science exhibition from Glasgow Science Centre

Date of issue: Tuesday, September 16 2014
A new nationwide survey by Ipsos MRBI has revealed that one in every two people (49 per cent) nationwide has experienced lung disease, either personally or through a member of their family. Yet relatively few have had their lungs tested over the past five years (18 per cent) and significant numbers of people were unable to identify the important symptoms of lung disease when asked. The research was conducted on behalf of the Irish Lung Health Alliance, a coalition of 16 leading Irish charities, to mark Ireland's first-ever National Lung Health Awareness Week. The initiative, which takes place from September 22 to 29, is supported through a grant from GSK. Following on from the survey results, the Alliance has called on the Government to develop a National Programme for Healthy Lungs.

The research coincided with the launch in Dublin today of National Lung Health Awareness Week by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD. The week sees a national roadshow get underway offering free lung testing alongside an exciting science education exhibition to highlight the importance of healthy lungs for life. The interactive health and well-being exhibition – BodyWorks on Tour in partnership with Glasgow Science Centre – will visit Dublin, Cork, Galway and Portlaoise, Ireland's Healthy Town 2014. For information on the campaign and what people can do to safeguard their lung health, visit www.lunghealth.ie.

In 2012 alone, more than 5,500 people died of lung diseases in Ireland1. In fact, it is estimated that one in five deaths in Ireland is caused by lung disease2 – more than heart disease3 – and Ireland has the third highest death rate for lung disease in Western Europe4.

Key Research Findings
Amongst the key findings from the research survey were:

• Experience of disease – the incidence of experience of lung disease, either personally or through a member of their family, was reported higher among women (53 per cent versus 44 per cent among the male population) and among young people aged 15 to 24 years (58 per cent)

• Impact – more than half (56 per cent) of those who reported having experienced lung disease, either personally or through a member of their family, described its impact as moderate to severe on their or their family member's life

Testing – in the past five years just under one in five (18 per cent) had a lung function test such as spirometry, which can diagnose lung disease. Men were more likely than women to have had the test (24 per cent versus 13 per cent)

• Poor symptom awareness – 57 per cent of those surveyed did not spontaneously identify that a persistent cough is a key symptom of lung disease. More than four in five did not spontaneously identify coughing up of blood (86 per cent), chest tightness/pain (88 per cent) and persistent phlegm (92 per cent), with just under two in five (38 per cent) not identifying shortness of breath/wheeze

Lung disease incorporates asthma, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, sleep apnoea, lung fibrosis, sarcoidosis, alpha one antitrypsin deficiency, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, bronchitis or emphysema. Lung disease is the most common reason to visit a GP and the third most common reason for acute hospital admission5. The week is part of a global initiative to combat lung disease, co-ordinated by the European Respiratory Society and the European Lung Foundation.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, said: "This is an important initiative to promote lung health and I’m pleased to be here to support your work. Lung Health Awareness Week is sending out a clear message about the importance of being aware of lung disease. The Irish Lung Health Alliance is giving useful advice on how to minimise the risk of lung diseases, the importance of early diagnosis, being aware of the symptoms, and having lung function tests. Increasing awareness of lung disease and self-care are closely linked with better clinical outcomes."

The Simple Spirometry Test That Can Lead to Better Lung Health
The BodyWorks on Tour exhibition taking place in various centres across Ireland offers a really fun, engaging and hands-on opportunity for all of the family to find out about their bodies and, in particular, their lungs, and the science behind lung health. Respiratory physiologists will be on hand to offer free spirometry lung testing to members of the public. Spirometry is the gold standard lung test and is the fastest and most accurate way to measure lung function and screen for potentially fatal diseases. The test is painless and takes just a few minutes. Its importance is underlined by previous research undertaken by the Irish Lung Health Alliance that showed one in seven Irish people had an undiagnosed lung condition6.

Professor Anthony O'Regan, Consultant Respiratory Physician, and spokesperson for the Irish Lung Health Alliance, commented: "We have known for some time that lung disease is a major health problem in Ireland. Indeed, the work of the Government in leading the world in tobacco and air quality control legislation and for setting up specific disease programmes for some lung diseases is to be commended. However, it is also apparent from the results of this research that that there is still substantial work to be done. We need to make much more significant strides in improving lung disease prevention, early diagnosis and improved access to specialist care. The Irish Lung Health Alliance is therefore calling on the Department of Health to lead the development of a new National Programme for Healthy Lungs in Ireland. The aim of this would be to map out a detailed strategy for improving lung health and the resources required, as well as to identify ambitious but achievable targets in improving our population's lung health.

"Of course, for the public it's important to emphasise that, in the majority of cases, lung disease is preventable. Unfortunately, there is a poor awareness among people about the importance of having their doctor check for lung disease and, if necessary, organise lung tests such as spirometry. This simple test can identify some common lung diseases even before symptoms appear and can lead to effective treatment. The sooner a problem is treated, the better the results and further irreversible lung damage can be averted. Early action is vital."

Dublin GAA senior footballer, Dean Rock, who is supporting the campaign, noted: "To be at the top of your game when it comes to playing football at a senior level, you've got to be in peak physical condition. But it's not just important for sport. To be in good shape for life, you've got to look after your body. I'd really encourage people to take up the challenge of National Lung Health Awareness Week and take steps to ensure that their lung health is in top condition. Visit the roadshows if you can, ask your doctor to examine your lung health or visit lunghealth.ie if you want to find out more information. Above all, take action – don't let this week pass you by without making a commitment to do better for yourself."

Another campaign supporter, Sharon Lynch from the Ireland Women's Rugby Team, said: "Lungs are underrated but instead they should be celebrated. Taking a breath of healthy, fresh air is something that we take for granted. Too many people waste their lungs instead of cherishing every invaluable minute of life they give us. We should be challenging our two precious organs to see what they can actually allow us to accomplish." Fellow teammate, Tania Rosser, added: "I know from personal experience, both among family and friends, of the huge impact that lung disease can have on people's lives. That's why it's so important that we adopt a healthy lifestyle, eat a proper diet and get out and get moving. As a mum of a seven-year-old boy, I think it's so important that as parents we lead by example and get active, so that our children see it as second nature and no big deal."
The National Lung Health Awareness Week roadshow will visit the following locations from 11am to 3pm each day (please note in relation to the free spirometry lung testing that pre-registration is advisable at www.lunghealth.ie):

Dublin – September 22nd, Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2
Cork – September 23rd, Devere Hall, University College Cork, Cork
Galway – September 24th, Aula Maxima, National University of Ireland, Galway
Portlaoise – September 25th, Parish Centre, Portlaoise

This initiative is supported through a grant from GSK

Give Lungs a Sporting Chance Urges Lung Health Alliance

European Report puts Ireland at bottom of league for Lung Health

Monday, 4th November, 2013: With 1 in 7 people in Ireland having an undiagnosed lung condition and Ireland having the third highest death rate from lung disease in Europe, causing 1 in 5 deaths, it is vital that people know how to maximise their lung health by taking simple steps, including regular exercise and avoidance of environmental exposures that damage the lung. This was the message from the Irish Lung Health Alliance at the launch of a campaign to promote lung health in Ireland through prevention and early diagnosis.

The campaign comes on the back of a European Report on lung health, which found that Ireland has one of the highest death rates from lung disease in Western Europe1 and is marked by a particularly high prevalence of diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis as well as high hospital admission rates for COPD and respiratory infection and high death rates for interstitial lung disease, COPD and pneumonia2. Ireland also has the lowest number of adult and trainee respiratory physicians at 1.3 per 100,000 while the mean for Europe is 4.4 per 100,000³. In addition, recent research carried out by the Irish Lung Health Alliance adds further to this picture by showing that 1 in 7 people have an undiagnosed lung condition.

“Clearly the state of Ireland’s lung health leaves much room for improvement,” said Dr Edward McKone, Respiratory Consultant and President of the Irish Thoracic Society. “Our high prevalence, death and hospital admission rates, coupled with high levels of undiagnosed lung disease can be attributed to a number of factors, but awareness of how to prevent and manage lung disease and identify early warning signs is key.”

With this in mind the Irish Lung Health Alliance is hosting a series of public information lectures in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo beginning on Tuesday, 5th November 2013. The information events will highlight the importance of prevention and early diagnosis and the significant role that exercise can play in maintaining lung health. Olympic Gold medallist, Dr. Ronnie Delany is Ambassador for the campaign, which is also supported by fellow athlete Paul Hession. Although lectures are free booking is essential to avoid disappointment. To book your place please register online at www.lunghealth.ie. The event in the Mansion House will also be available by live webcast from the website.

“We tend to associate exercise with cardiac health, losing weight or preventing diabetes but exercise is also very important for the lungs whether you are healthy or have a lung condition. We would encourage the public to attend our information events to learn more about their lungs and the simple steps they can take to maintain lung health,” added Dr McKone.

Promoting the benefits of sport for your lung health, Dr. Ronnie Delany, ambassador to the campaign, said “Keeping active whether walking, running or simply working in the garden can contribute greatly to our general well being and is particularly beneficial to the lungs. As an athlete I have a great appreciation of the vital role of the lungs in sporting performance, therefore I am delighted to support this campaign to encourage people to look after their lung health through exercise and other simple steps.”

The Irish Lung Health Alliance comprises the Alpha One Foundation, the Irish Thoracic Society, Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, the Asthma Society of Ireland, the Irish Sleep Apnoea Trust, COPD Support Ireland, Irish Sarcoidosis Network, Irish Lung Fibrosis Association, Pulmonary Hypertension Ireland, the Irish Cancer Society and ASH Ireland.
This campaign is supported by Boehringer Ingelheim Ireland through an unrestricted grant.

The Public Information Lectures will take place at:

• Dublin – Tuesday, 5th November (6.30pm to 8pm) – The Mansion House, Dublin
A live webcast of this event will be available on www.lunghealth.ie

• Cork – Tuesday, 5th November (6.30pm to 8pm) – Clarion Hotel, Cork

• Sligo – Tuesday, 5th November (6.30pm to 8pm) – Clarion Hotel, Sligo

• Galway – Thursday, 7th November (6.30pm to 8pm) – Croi House, Galway

• Limerick - Monday, 11th November(6.30pm to 8pm) – Clarion Hotel, Limerick

Ends

For reference, please contact:
Marika MacCarvill – 086-1712568, marika@freerange.ie
Suzanne McCormack, CEO of the Irish Thoracic Society -086 8573927

 

About the Irish Lung Health Alliance research:

The Irish study conducted by the Irish Lung health Alliance and presented to the Irish Thoracic Society Annual Scientific Meeting is based on a survey of members of the public who availed of free lung function tests as part of an awareness campaign organised by the Irish Lung Health Alliance in 2012. This research was based on data from 10 sites that offered Spirometry (lung function tests) to members of the public. Analysis was carried out using survey questionnaires and lung function test results on 515 participants.

About the European Report – The European Respiratory Society's European Lung White Book (published Sept, 2013)

1 http://www.erswhitebook.org/chapters/the-burden-of-lung-disease/

2 http://www.erswhitebook.org/chapters/#pagesPARTCMajorRespiratoryDiseases

³ http://www.erswhitebook.org/chapters/medical-respiratory-specialists/

 

rish Lung Health Alliance met with the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health on Thursday 7th February 2013

 

 

 


Research shows that one in seven Irish people have an undiagnosed lung condition.

13th December 2012

New research shows that one in seven or 15% of Irish people have an undiagnosed lung condition and that this figure doubles to almost 30% in people over 60 who have a history of smoking.

The study presented at the Irish Thoracic Society Annual Scientific Meeting is based on a survey of members of the public who availed of free lung function tests as part of an awareness campaign organised by the Irish Lung Health Alliance earlier this year.

“The data from this study shows the high prevalence and under-diagnosis of chronic lung disease in Ireland and confirms that lung disease is a major public health challenge. Lung disease is one of the most common reasons to visit the doctor and is often diagnosed at a late stage when damage to the lungs is irreversible and debilitating. Early diagnosis is key and leads to better outcomes and improved quality of life for patients while reducing dependency on over-stretched healthcare resources, ” said Dr Edward McKone, President of the Irish Thoracic Society and one of the authors of the research.

The research also shows that lung disease is more likely to affect people who are current or former smokers and who are over the age of 60. People who are educated to Junior Cert level or below are also shown to be more likely to have lung disease.

“Increasing awareness of lung disease amongst the public is vital. Symptoms such as persistent cough, wheeze and shortness of breath should be checked by a GP and people should look after their lung health by avoiding tobacco smoke and staying active. Once detected, lung diseases such as COPD and asthma are very treatable, leading to improved symptoms and quality of life for patients as well as avoiding further irreversible lung damage”, added Dr McKone.

Prof Tim McDonnell, Clinical Lead for the National COPD Programme welcomed the study.

“It is likely that a majority of those identified in this study suffer from COPD. We know that both under-diagnosis and low awareness levels are major challenges in the management of COPD in Ireland. The work of the National COPD Program, by providing patients with access to community based services (COPD Outreach), will prove crucial in addressing these challenges, ” said Prof McDonnell.

Lung disease causes one in five deaths in Ireland each year and deaths from lung disease exceed those from heart disease and are almost equal to those from non-respiratory cancer. It is the most common reason to visit a GP and the third most common reason for acute hospital admission. For more details on lung disease in Ireland please go to www.lunghealth.ie or www.irishthoracicsociety.com.

This research was based on data from 10 sites that offered Spirometry (lung function tests) to members of the public on World Spirometry Day, 26th June. Analysis was carried out using survey questionnaires and lung function test results on 515 participants.

 

NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN TO BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO LUNG HEALTH

Free lung capacity testing in centres around the country to mark World Spirometry Day on Wednesday, 27th June

Love Your LungsFriday, 22nd June, 2012: Olympic champion Dr. Ronnie Delany and eleven leading Irish lung health charities and patient advocacy groups have joined forces to urge the public to take a simple, fast and accurate test to measure their lung health.

The ‘Love your Lungs’ campaign aims to encourage people to get their lungs tested, particularly if they have symptoms such as shortness of breath, persistent cough or wheeze. Testing can provide an early indication of diseases such as asthma, lung fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Early detection of these diseases can greatly improve outcomes and quality of life for patients. To mark World Spirometry Day on the 27th June hospitals in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Clare, Sligo, Mayo and Mullingar will be offering the free lung test called spirometry. There will also be a mobile unit at the top of Grafton St. in Dublin city centre. For further details on venues click here

Lung disease causes one in five deaths in Ireland each year and deaths from lung disease exceed those from heart disease and are almost equal to those from non-respiratory cancer. It is the most common reason to visit a GP and the third most common reason for acute hospital admission. However, many lung diseases are diagnosed late which makes them much more difficult to treat. Identifying lung disease early is very important and can be done with simple spirometry testing.

“Spirometry is a simple and painless test that takes just a few minutes,” said Dr Edward McKone, President of the Irish Thoracic Society. “The good news is that once detected, lung diseases such as COPD and asthma are very treatable. Early diagnosis and treatment of lung disease is crucial, leading to improved symptoms and quality of life for patients as well as avoiding further irreversible lung damage. It’s also important to remember that many lung diseases can be prevented by keeping your lungs healthy through not smoking and staying active,” he said.

Encouraging people to improve their lung health through exercise, Dr. Ronnie Delany, Ambassador to the ‘Love your Lungs’ campaign said “This Olympic Year is a perfect opportunity to draw attention to the fact that regular physical activity helps boost lung health. People with lung conditions often fear that exercise will make breathlessness worse but regular physical exercise is proven to improve quality of life and fitness including for those with lung conditions.
For further details visit www.lunghealth.ie

The ‘Love your Lungs’ campaign is being promoted by The Irish Lung Health Alliance, which represents eleven leading Irish lung health charities and patient advocacy groups including; the Alpha One Foundation, the Irish Thoracic Society, the Asthma Society of Ireland, the Irish Cancer Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland, the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association, Ben Bulben COPD Support Group, the Irish Sleep Apnoea Trust, the Irish Sarcoidosis Network, the Irish Association of Respiratory Scientists and the Respiratory Nurses Association of Ireland.

The campaign is supported by Novartis and Boehringer Ingelheim.

For full details on venues click here

Press enquires to Marika MacCarvill (086) 1712568

Spirometry – the gold standard in lung testing

In the same way that blood pressure measurements provide a simple yet effective screening method for cardiovascular disease, spirometry tests can help to unmask the early symptoms of a variety of lung diseases before any more obvious signs appear.
It is a quick, simple and non-invasive method to test lung function. It measures the amount and speed of air that can be inhaled and exhaled by the lungs.
Spirometry is used to diagnose and monitor patients with lung disease. It helps assess asthma, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


Dr Ronnie Delany, Ambassador for the ‘Love your Lungs’ Campaign

Dr Delany’s sporting achievements make him a perfect embodiment of the link between good lung function and athleticism. He won a gold medal for Ireland in the 1500m in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. He then went on to win an unprecedented and unsurpassed 40 straight victories ‘indoors’ in America from 1956 to 1959. He became one of the first ‘Four Minute’ Milers in Compton, California in June 1956 and was the ‘Indoor Mile’ World Record Holder from 1958 to 1962. Dr Delany was the first Irishman to win a medal in the European Championships 1500m in Stockholm in 1958. Dr Delany has been recognized for his achievements by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland with an Honorary Fellowship.


 

'Love your Lungs' this Valentine's Day

Irish Charities join forces to promote healthy lungs

Love Your LungsTuesday 13 February: A group of Irish charities have teamed up with Olympic Champion Dr Ronnie Delany to promote healthy lungs by highlighting symptoms of lung disease and the importance of early intervention. The Irish Lung Health Alliance, which comprises the Alpha One Foundation, the Irish Thoracic Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland, the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association, Ben Bulben COPD Support Group, the Irish Sleep Apnoea Trust, the Asthma Society of Ireland, the Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Sarcoidosis Network, has united officially today, ahead of Valentine’s Day, to launch the ‘Love Your Lungs’ campaign.

The campaign carries four simple messages:

  • Lung disease can affect anyone regardless of age, health status and walk of life

  • Symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough and wheeze are not normal and should be checked with your GP

  • Lung disease is treatable - the earlier you treat the better.

  • Keep lungs healthy - don’t smoke and stay active

The ‘Love Your Lungs’ campaign will see the charities working with medical centres throughout the country to offer free lung function tests for World Spirometry Day taking place in June this year. It also incorporates a new website, www.lunghealth.ie, offering helpful information and advice regarding common lung conditions as well as patient support and tips on how to keep your lungs healthy. The website will be updated regularly with details on participating centres over the coming months.

Love Your Lungs‘One in five deaths in Ireland is caused by lung disease. It is the most common reason to visit a GP and the third most common reason for acute hospital admission. Yet early diagnosis of lung disease, which can vastly improve outcomes and quality of life for patients, continues to be a challenge due to poor awareness levels. The fact is, shortness of breath, cough and wheeze are not normal and if present should be checked out by your GP,’ said Dr Edward McKone, Consultant Respiratory Physician and President of the Irish Thoracic Society.

‘The campaign also aims to highlight the fact that lung disease affects people of all ages, all socio-economic backgrounds and many non-smokers as well as smokers. ‘The range of conditions represented by The Lung Health Alliance charities is evidence of the broad-reaching nature of lung disease as they affect everyone from infants to senior citizens. In fact lung disease is the most prevalent condition reported in young adults (18-24 years of age),’ said Dr McKone.
Olympic legend Dr Ronnie Delany is an ambassador for the campaign underlining the importance of healthy lungs to an active lifestyle and visa versa. As an Olympic Gold Medallist and the winner of an unprecedented and unsurpassed 40 straight victories “indoors” in America from 1956 to 1959 including 33 mile races, Dr Delany embodies the link between good lung function and athleticism.

“We know only too well how dependent athletes are on good lung function. What’s probably less well known is the reverse – the role that sport and physical activity can play in preventing lung disease and in improving quality of life for people with lung conditions. It’s therefore very fitting that the Irish Lung Health Alliance and the World Spirometry Day Campaign have chosen this Olympics year to launch their campaign, said Dr Delany”

The campaign is a forerunner to World Spirometry Day which will take place on the 27th June.

For further information on the ‘Love Your Lungs’ campaign visit www.lunghealth.ie



Dr Ronnie Delany becomes an Ambassador for the ‘Love your Lungs’ Campaign

Ronnie DelanyThe Irish Lung Health Alliance is delighted to announce that Dr Ronnie Delany, renowned Irish Olympic Champion has joined the ‘Love your Lungs’ campaign as an ambassador.

Given Dr Delany’s sporting achievements, he is a perfect embodiment of the link between good lung function and athleticism. He won a gold medal for Ireland in the 1500m in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. He then went on to win an unprecedented and unsurpassed 40 straight victories ‘indoors’ in America from 1956 to 1959. He became one of the first ‘Four Minute’ Milers in Compton, California in June 1956 and was the ‘Mile’ World Record Holder from 1958 to 1962. Dr Delany was the first Irishman to win a medal in the European Championships 1500m in Stockholm in 1958.

“We know only too well how dependent athletes are on good lung function. What’s probably less well known is the reverse – the role that sport and physical activity can play in preventing lung disease and in improving quality of life for people with lung conditions. It’s therefore very fitting that the Irish Lung Health Alliance and the World Spirometry Day Campaign have chosen this Olympics year to launch their campaign, said Dr Delany”