Doctors and nurses at Southampton’s teaching hospitals will offer members of the public breathing tests while they shop on Wednesday (20 November) in a bid to improve lung health across the city.
Staff at the NIHR Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit at Southampton General Hospital will use World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day to highlight the importance of regular testing and early diagnosis.
The condition, which is known to affect more than 900,000 people over the age of 35, causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and narrowed and can lead to a range of breathing diseases including bronchitis and emphysema.
Across the UK, where smoking is the leading cause of COPD, it is estimated around two million people remain undiagnosed and at risk of contracting a more severe form of the disease as they get older.
Although there is no cure, lifestyle changes can help patients manage their symptoms and prevent deterioration – and specialists hope the day will encourage more people to get their lungs tested for COPD, along with other conditions including asthma.
“Early intervention is key for this condition as it leads to better outcomes for patients and can prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital,” said respiratory research nurse Pauline Rachman.
“Our event is now in its fourth year and, on every occasion so far, we have found lung problems in around a third of all attendees and have been able to send them in the right direction for help.”
Participants will undertake a free five-minute spirometry test to measure their lung capacity and, if the results raise concern, they will be given a letter to take to their GP for further investigation.
In addition, visitors will be offered advice to help stop smoking by Solent NHS Trust's Southampton Quitters team and have an opportunity to talk to clinicians and researchers about the range of inhalers available and how to use them correctly.
Last year, the journal Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin revealed more than 45 million prescriptions for inhalers for respiratory conditions were distributed in England in 2011, but many patients do not use them correctly and more than 50% struggle to use a metered dose properly.
Ms Rachman added: “Many people fail to use their inhalers properly, making COPD treatment ineffective, so our specialist respiratory nurses will be available to offer information and advice on how to use them correctly to gain the full benefit of medication.”
The event, organised by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Solent NHS Trust and the British Lung Foundation, will be open from 10am to 4pm at Sainsbury’s in Portswood. For more information on the day's activities call 023 8120 4479.
Posted on Friday 15 November 2013