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24th Jan 2019

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Disease that affects one in ten adults in Europe is neglected

  • The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoke (Photo: VCD)

European countries give too little attention to the growing health problem of life-threatening lung diseases that affects one in ten European, says a lung advocacy group seeking to raise awareness of the problem on World COPD Day (19 November).

COPD - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - is an irreversible and sometimes life-threatening condition that interferes with normal breathing. The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoke - either through tobacco use or through second-hand smoke.

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“The scale of mortality from COPD in Europe is now equivalent to three Hiroshima bombs per year, and unlike many other lung diseases, it is increasing,” said secretary general of the European COPD Coalition Catherine Hartmann, adding that “very few healthcare systems are addressing the problem adequately.”

“It is the responsibility of health policy makers to provide the right framework of care to improve the health, quality of life and well being of people with COPD; we urge them to give this condition the attention it deserves, to avoid the devastating COPD timebomb we are currently facing,” she said in a press release on World COPD Day.

COPD is currently the 5th biggest cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

It is the only leading cause of death that is on the increase and it is expected to be the world’s 3rd biggest killer in 2030 - just behind heart diseases and stroke.

COPD is an umbrella term used to describe chronic lung diseases that cause limitations in lung airflow, leading to the most common symptoms of COPD being a chronic cough, excessive sputum production, and breathlessness.

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