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Love your lungs no matter what age you are

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) Support Ireland is calling on both the young and old to look after their lungs. The organisation is stressing that it is never too early to think of your lung health, as early intervention is key in this progressive disease.

The charity teamed up with St Michael’s College Senior Cup rugby team to highlight the difficulties facing more than 380,000 people who are living with COPD in Ireland and to call on the general public to look after their lung health. 

COPD is a chronic disease, which affects people’s ability to breathe and perform the easiest of tasks, and affects more than 380,000 people living in Ireland. Early intervention is extremely important in effectively managing this progressive disease. 

The St Michael’s students were joined at their home pitch by both COPD Support Ireland and people living with COPD. Together, they aim to highlight the plight of those living with COPD, as well as to emphasise how important it is to look after your lungs, whether you are a fit 18-year-old who plays sports every day, or a little older and a little less fit. 

“Looking after your lungs from a young age, by keeping fit and staying away from smoking, is key to having healthy lungs in later life,” said Mr Damien Peelo, Chief Executive Officer of COPD Support Ireland. “COPD is a common, progressive lung disease that mostly affects current or prior smokers, so not smoking or kicking the habit at an early stage has hugely beneficial effects for people.”

Prof Tim McDonnell, HSE Clinical Lead for COPD and Consultant Respiratory Physician, called on people to make themselves aware of COPD symptoms: “Respiratory diseases, such as COPD, are responsible for almost 12 per cent of all deaths, rising to almost 20 per cent in the over-65s age group, so it is vital that we diagnose it as soon as possible in order to treat it effectively. The most important impact is the effect on the quality of life of the patients themselves but there is also significant cost incurred as a result of COPD. The cost to the State amounts to circa €70 million per year. Even severe cases, however, can be improved with treatment. If people with COPD can make even small changes to their everyday lives, they can help themselves.”

The Department of Health’s Key Trends 2015 report reflects a positive decrease in cigarette smoking from 2006 to 2014 in those age 15 years and over. 

The same report shows an 18 per cent death rate due to [all] respiratory diseases in 2014. Some 1.9 per cent of these are due to chronic lower respiratory disease, such as COPD or asthma. The data for an older population of over 65 years of age shows that the rate of deaths increases to 19.7 per cent for all respiratory diseases, and from 1.9 per cent to 6 cent for chronic lower respiratory diseases.

The first report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS) shows that Ireland has the second-highest hospitalisation rate for COPD of selected OECD countries. There are approximately 13,000 hospital admissions each year with exacerbations of COPD. 

COPD Support Ireland is a charity set up to support all those living with the disease, and is Ireland’s first national COPD support and advocacy body. 

Early-stage symptoms include frequent coughing, sometimes with phlegm, and mild breathlessness from physical work or brisk walking.

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Pictured L to R at the COPD Love Your Lungs launch were: Ms Janette Doyle and Ms Marie Nolan, both of whom live with COPD; Prof Tim McDonnell; Mr Damien Peelo, COPD Support Ireland; Ms Aiveen Marron, Novartis; Ms Jenny Heaney, Novartis; and Ms Ann Murphy, who lives with COPD

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Students from St Michael’s Senior Cup team

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Students from St Michael’s Senior Cup team

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Students from St Michael’s Senior Cup team

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