Killer lung disease is on the increase

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PUBLIC health bosses have issued a stark warning on the impact of smoking as Wigan figures of chronic lung disease are among the region’s worst.

Latest GP statistics show the number of borough residents with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) has risen from 7,239 to 7,462 since last year.

This represents 2.31 per cent of the population in Wigan meaning the prevalence of the disease is higher than several clinical commissioning group (CCG) areas in Greater Manchester.

COPD is the umbrella term for serious lung conditions that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Public Health England has released the figures to highlight the debilitating nature of serious lung diseases for which smoking is the biggest preventable risk factor.

They also show that COPD led to more than 20,500 hospital admissions in the North West in 2013/14. Nationally, COPD led to more than 113,000 emergency hospital admissions across the country.

Dr Jane Rossini, PHE North West deputy centre director said: “COPD may not be well known but it can be a serious and severely debilitating disease, dramatically affecting people’s lives and leading to years of suffering. The single best thing a smoker can do to reduce their chances of developing this devastating disease is to stop smoking. January is a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions and resolving to stop smoking is the best thing you can do not only for your health but for the health of those around you.”

People with COPD have difficulties breathing, primarily due to the narrowing of their airways and destruction of lung tissue. Typical symptoms include breathlessness when active, a persistent cough and frequent chest infections.

Andrea Crossfield, chief executive of North West social enterprise Tobacco-Free Futures said: “This year’s campaign highlights the difficulties of living with COPD, showing how the disease affects people’s ability to be able to carry out everyday activities. I hope that the video will motivate the 1.1m people that smoke across the North West to make a change this New Year for a healthier future. Research shows that two thirds of smokers want to stop smoking and New Year is a great opportunity to make a change and quit for good. Quitting this January, either through free online support or through your local stop smoking service, will immediately result in health improvements including a better sense of smell, taste and more energy.

“Longer term, ex-smokers reduce their risk of stroke, heart disease and lung cancer, as well as protecting others from secondhand smoke. As well as improving your health, a 20-a-day smoker will save on average £250 a month. Don’t delay, make 2016 the year that you make a change and put your health first.”