By Peter Stevenson
ALMOST ONE in twenty people in Cyprus suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) according a study carried out by the Nicosia General Hospitals pulmonology clinic.
According to Health Minister Petros Petrides, 4.9 per cent of people in Cyprus suffer from COPD while 51.7 per cent of those people are not aware that they have the disease. Smoking is a major cause.
“COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death worldwide and by 2020 is expected to be the third cause of death and the fifth cause of disability,” he said yesterday to mark the beginning of COPD awareness week.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than three million people worldwide die each year due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and more than 65 million people suffer from the disease, the health minister said.
“In Europe it is estimated that each year approximately 300,000 people die due to COPD,” he said.
Petrides added that the effects, morbidity and mortality of COPD varies between countries and between different groups in the same country.
COPD is a serious lung disease that over time makes it hard to breathe. It can be called other names, like emphysema or chronic bronchitis. In people who have COPD, the airways – tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs – are partially blocked, which makes it hard to get air in and out.
When COPD is severe, shortness of breath and other symptoms can get in the way of even the most basic tasks, such as doing light housework, taking a walk, even washing and dressing.
This year’s COPD awareness week will run from November 18 until 24 and carries the slogan “It’s never too late”.
“This positive message emphasises that important operations can improve the respiratory system at any stage before or after the diagnosis of COPD. It is an irreversible yet treatable disease and the effectiveness of its treatment is based on targeted programmes for the promotion of healthy living, prevention and early diagnosis,” he said.
Regarding the treatment of COPD, the health ministry offers services through public hospitals and especially through the pulmonology clinic, through preventative programmes and through continued collaboration with non-governmental organisations.
“To treat COPD, a chronic disease with serious epidemiological implications, a continuous collective effort is required,” he said. “The health ministry and I personally support the hard work done by the Pulmonary Association of Cyprus.”
During COPD awareness week free spirometry tests will be carried out at public hospitals and people will be given information on how to stop smoking.
A spirometry test is the most common of the lung function tests.