Lung Disease Death Rate Fueled by Ignorance

Lung disease affecting more and more people, yet public awareness is minimal

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Lung Disease: do you have it? Do you know what it is? It claims the lives of almost 4 million people per year yet most people have never considered the danger.

Research has recently revealed that most people lack understanding about lung disease. A new initiative to spread lung disease awareness is coinciding with the Olympic games to highlight the importance of lung health.

"Get your lungs tested."

Cancer, heart disease and stroke death rates have been decreasing in the past thirty years. Lung Disease death rates have doubled in that period of time. Why aren't we aware of this fourth killer?

New data has recently been released by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) in conjunction with World Spirometry Day (officially held on June 27) -- a day focused on spreading awareness about the importance of lung testing -- that reveals a huge lack of understanding about the dangers of lung disease. Spirometry is the measuring of breath in terms of volume and speed of air that is inhaled and exhaled.

Though the initiative is called World Spirometry Day, FIRS is attempting to spread awareness and continue events until the beginning of the Olympic Games on July 27.

It is estimated that only five percent of those surveyed by FIRS is worried about this medical danger. This is somewhat scary news when one looks at the statistics associated with this disease. Lung disease kills almost four million per year, making it one of the world's biggest killer. Despite this terrifying number, research published by YouGov across four continents shows that people are way more worried about cancer, heart disease, and stroke; these medical conditions have been killing less and less people in the past three decades.

In addition to mass amounts of people underestimating the impact of lung disease, public polls show that the public lacks understanding of how to manage this condition. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed admitted to never getting their lungs tested. And a whopping seventy percent of those surveyed thought that people with lung disease were not able to engage in moderate exercise. Yet physical activity can actually help manage and improve symptoms associated with lung disease -- even in the most severe cases. FIRS is trying to make people understand that these assumptions and lack of understanding could be deadly.

The good news is that simple lung tests like spirometry can help detect the early symptoms of lung disease. FIRS is taking advantage of the Olympic games to help spread awareness and encourage people to seek out medical professionals and get their lungs tested.

The Chair of FIRS and President of the European Respiratory Society (ERS), Klaus Rabe, said:
"Chronic lung disease is a major health issue but – as the FIRS poll shows – its burden continues to be underestimated. There is widespread ignorance not only around the seriousness of lung disease but about what can be done to prevent it. As countries across the world celebrate the achievements of the world's best athletes – we feel the time is right to focus on how we can all improve our lung health."

In a global healthcare initiative, healthcare professionals have been taking to the streets on World Spirometry Day, and will continues to do so throughout the entire build up to the Olympics. They will be running public lung testing events to raise awareness. Spirometry is the most effective way to test lung health and it usually takes less than ten minutes.
Many well-known athletes are publicly supporting the campaign to show that lung disease doesn't have to be debilitating. They are encouraging people with and without lung disease to take up exercise.

Within the Olympic community lung disease is a very important issue as approximately 448 competitors in the 2004 Olympic games had chronic lung issues. Norwegian Olympic rower, Olaf Tufte, is one of the campaign supporters who speaks from personal experience; Tufte has won three medals despite having severe allergic asthma. He stands strong nonetheless, and serves as a poster boy for this worldwide initiative, "I am determined not to let my asthma limit me or restrict my ambitions. Instead, I see it as one challenge among many that I need to master in order to come top in my sport. People with lung conditions can lead healthy, active lives – if they take steps to ensure their condition is identified early enough and treated well."

Whether you're a competitive athlete or a fan of afternoon strolls, FIRS and supporters want to get the message out there that even the smallest amount of exercise could go a long way -- especially for those suffering from lung disease. Anything to help improve lung capacity will help this global issue. Respiratory doctors understand more and more about the connection between exercise and lung disease despite a continuing public unawareness. World Spirometry Day hopes to help this disparity by presenting the lung disease issue as something that can be helped and prevented easily through easy steps; no matter who you are, things like taking an afternoon walk and taking a ten minute lung test are easy and accessible in thanks to FIRS and World Spirometry Day.
 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 22, 2012
Last Updated:
July 22, 2012