Bradford residents are being warned that cancer isn’t the only risk to smoking with 12,729 people currently registered as having Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Public Health England (PHE) is highlighting the debilitating nature of serious lung diseases for which smoking is the biggest preventable risk factor, after the latest GP figures reveal that the number of people diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) across the Yorkshire and the Humber area reached over 125,500 in 2014-151. Nationally over 1 million people are living with COPD.
COPD is the umbrella term for serious lung conditions that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. 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.
Smokers can often dismiss the early signs of COPD as a ‘smoker’s cough’, but if they continue smoking and the condition worsens, it can greatly impact on their quality of life. Large numbers of people with COPD are unable to participate in everyday activities such as climbing stairs, housework or gardening; with many even unable take a holiday because of their disease.
COPD led to around 15,000 hospital admissions in the region in 2013-14 and between 2012 and 2014 there were 8,757 deaths attributable to COPD . Around 86% of COPD deaths nationally are caused by smoking.
To highlight the impact of this progressive and debilitating disease, PHE has released a new short film featuring Olympian Iwan Thomas, whose mother has recently been diagnosed with COPD. Together with four smokers, Iwan takes part in an experiment to illustrate the difficulties of living with advanced COPD and urges people to quit this New Year.
Corinne Harvey from PHE in Yorkshire and the Humber 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. Search ‘Smokefree’ online or visit your local stop smoking service to get the help and support you need to quit smoking for good.”
Ralph Saunders, Head of Public Health for Bradford Council, says:
“My advice to anyone who smokes is don’t ignore a ‘smoker’s cough’ or getting out of breath. Take it as a sign to quit before any damage to your lungs gets worse. If diagnosed early, changes in lifestyle, treatments such as pulmonary rehabilitation and prescription medications, can slow down the progression of the disease and help patients cope with symptoms like breathlessness and fatigue. However, there is no cure for COPD, so the single most important thing you can do to reduce the chances of getting the condition is to stop smoking completely.”
Ex-Olympic athlete, Iwan Thomas whose mother has just been diagnosed with COPD, says:
“I’ve never fully understood COPD or the everyday consequences but when the simple things like climbing the stairs, making a cup of tea or walking to the bus stop become impossible, it’s serious. After years of smoking, it’s great that my mum is making 2016 the year she quits and I’d urge anyone who smokes to do the same. Quitting smoking can add years to your life and life to your years”
Smokers looking to quit are being encouraged to search ‘Smokefree’ online or visit nhs.uk/smokefree for the full range of free tools and support.