Fighting a little known killer

A group dedicated to fighting a little known killer – often mistaken for smoker’s cough - were at Lister Hospital this week as part of a worldwide initiative.

Members of Breathe Easy North Herts, part of the British Lung Foundation’s support network, were at the hospital on Wednesday to highlight the dangers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which kills around 30,000 people every year. Nearly one million people in the UK have been diagnosed with the disease, which restricts air to the lungs, causing bouts of coughing and wheezing, but it is estimated another three million have the condition without knowing it.

Sue Churchman, chairman of the group, said: “COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema and causes obstruction in the lungs by narrowing bronchial tubes. The most common cause of COPD is smoking and many people think they just have a smoker’s cough.

“Once you give up smoking, you gradually reduce the chances of getting COPD and you slow down its progress if you already have it. There are treatments for this disease although there is no know cure, so the earlier people seek help, the better.”

In an attempt to tackle the disease, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust has begun a specialised exercise class in Stevenage.

Senior NHS physiotherapist in pulmonary rehabilitation, Rachel Canning, said: “We run a seven week programme for patients on the NHS in Letchworth, however there has been little to offer these people after their course. We are not funded for a follow on course and often people in Stevenage are unable to travel to Letchworth.

“We are aware of a high number of people in Stevenage with chronic lung disease and have set up a group to promote exercise and prevent recurrent hospital admissions.”

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The joint venture with Herts Sports Partnership takes place every Tuesday from 3pm to 4pm at Chells Manor Community Centre, costing �2.60 a session. To book a place call 07920 565338.

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