People with COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, are being urged by COPD Support Ireland to “Step Up and Step Out” this World COPD Day, Wednesday November 15, and take part in a virtual COPD exercise masterclass.
The online event, which will be streamed live on the day at COPD.ie, will feature exercise coaching, physical activity challenges, and presentations from experts with lots of tips on how to stay active. It is taking place from 12 midday to 2pm as part of the World COPD Day Big Baton Pass, which sees Ireland among ten countries from around the globe taking part in a live broadcast to mark the day.
As part of the occasion, people with COPD and their supporters are also being encouraged to take part in the COPD Step Challenge. Those interested are asked to register their challenge, choose an activity – for example, walking, stair-climbing, running, even dancing – and set a target number of steps, individually or as part of a group. The overarching aim is to register a total of 380,000 steps, or one step for every person thought to have COPD in Ireland.
To take part in the COPD Step Challenge, and receive a challenge pack of tee shirt, pedometer, and water bottle, visit COPD.ie.
ABC of COPD
COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is perhaps more commonly known as chronic bronchitis or emphysema. It arises where there is airflow obstruction in the airways of the lungs leading to shortness of breath. Smoking accounts for the majority of cases. However, it can also arise from being in an environment where there is exposure to smoke, dust or fumes, or where a person is living with an existing condition such as chronic asthma, or has a family history of certain lung-related illnesses.
Latest figures from the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System 2021/2022 estimate that there are 380,000 people living with COPD in Ireland, yet less than a third of these have been formally diagnosed. Unfortunately, at least 1,500 people die here each year of COPD, while over 15,000 people are admitted to hospital with the disease.
Against this backdrop, COPD Support Ireland is urging people to get checked out if they answer yes to the “ABC” of COPD:
- A – are you Age 35 and over?
- B – are you experiencing ongoing Breathlessness?
- C – do you have a Cough that won’t go away, with or without phlegm?
Importance of Early Diagnosis
For Prof. Tim McDonnell, consultant respiratory physician and chairperson of COPD Support Ireland, the welcome news is that we can now identify the likelihood of COPD at a much earlier stage:
“The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, or GOLD, is this year highlighting the importance of early lung health, early diagnosis and early interventions, as part of its World COPD Day activities. The good news is that we are now in a position to identify COPD earlier thanks to the spirometry breathing test. The sooner COPD is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of preventing or delaying it from developing into severe COPD.
“Unfortunately, we know from a survey conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes late last year that while seven in ten (68%) people here have heard of COPD, almost nine in ten (88%) know little or nothing about it. Indeed, one third (35%) were unable to identify any symptoms associated with the condition. I would encourage people to get to know the ‘ABC’ of COPD and, if this applies to them, to visit their GP for a spirometry lung check to assess their breathing.”
For Joan Johnston, General Manager of COPD Support Ireland, physical activity is a vital part of maintaining health for people with COPD:
“It is well-documented that maintaining or increasing physical activity levels in day-to-day life can improve the symptoms of COPD. In fact, apart from quitting smoking, it is the single most important thing that we can do. That’s why this World COPD Day we are encouraging people with the condition to Step Up and Step Out for COPD. Breathing is life and, the earlier we act, whether it’s in terms of getting symptoms checked out, or managing our condition once diagnosed, the so much better our quality of life will be.”
|STEPPING UP AND STEPPING OUT – Top Five Tips for People with COPD
For more information on COPD, supports and services, visit COPD.ie or telephone COPD Support Ireland on 086 041 5128. If you have a question about living with your own COPD diagnosis, you can also call the COPD Adviceline on Freefone 1800 832 146, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, to make an appointment to speak with a COPD specialist nurse or physiotherapist.
Image credit: Shane O’Neill