In the lead-up to World COPD Day, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Support Ireland has announced details of its “Let’s Get Moving on COPD” national patient conference for people with COPD.
Also referred to as bronchitis or emphysema, COPD is a chronic lung condition, the primary symptoms of which are breathlessness, persistent cough, and regular chest infections.It’s estimated that there are almost half a million people in Ireland with COPD, however, many do not know they have it. The most common cause of disease-specific emergency admission among adults in Ireland, in 2017, there were over 17,500 hospital admissions for COPD.
The conference, which is open to people with COPD and their relatives and free of charge, will take place in the Royal College of Physicians on Thursday November 15 and will focus on improving self-care for people with COPD, and offer contributions from leading experts on the future of COPD treatment.
A series of parallel workshops will also take place featuring activities that will help people with COPD to better manage their condition and look after their physical and mental well-being, including workshops on singing, art therapy, coping with breathlessness, benefits and entitlements, guidance for carers and preparing for retirement. Nurses will provide walk-in COPD clinics where people can gain information and seek support on minding their condition, including inhaler technique advice.
According to the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System, there are almost 500,000 people in Ireland who have COPD, yet only half are likely to be diagnosed.
To mark World COPD Day, which takes place on Wednesday November 21, COPD Support Ireland is undertaking a number of initiatives to raise awareness of the disease.
Prof JJ Gilmartin, Consultant Respiratory Physician and Chair, COPD Support Ireland, commented: “Unfortunately, COPD is a big problem for us here in Ireland. According to the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System, there are almost 500,000 people in Ireland who have COPD, yet only half are likely to be diagnosed. Unfortunately, this figure, based on the 2011 census, is likely to be an understatement given that our population has gotten larger and older since then. Hospitalisation rates in Ireland are also the highest of all OECD countries based on most recent statistics.
“However, with greater awareness of signs and symptoms and increased support in the community through access to tailored exercise, good information and peer support, we can do a lot to improve the quality of life of those living with COPD. We are delighted to announce that thanks to our success in securing funding through the National Lottery Grant Scheme we will be able to offer increased access to much-needed community-based exercise programmes in a number of areas throughout the country”.
COPD is caused primarily by smoking, but can also be the result of inhalation of dust or chemicals, and exposure to pollution, including fumes in the workplace over an extended period of time. People with an existing illness such as chronic asthma may be more prone to developing COPD, while others may be pre-disposed to it due to a hereditary lung condition known as Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
People over the age of 35, who are or have been smokers, who have symptoms or who have a family history of the disease, should ask their GP for a COPD health check.