29/12/2015 - Permalink

Over 6,681 people living in Shropshire are living a life blighted by chronic smoking-related lung diseases

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News from ip&e’s Help2Change and our partners Public Health England

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an umbrella term for serious and progressive lung diseases, can severely impact quality of life and led to over 13,242 hospital admissions in the West Midlands in 2013-14.

  • 153 deaths each year in Shropshire are attributable to COPD
  • Smoking is the biggest preventable risk factor for COPD
  • Olympian Iwan Thomas talks about his mother’s personal struggle with COPD in a compelling new video released today.

Public Health England (PHE) is today 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) in Shropshire reached 6,681 in 2014-15. 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.

HSCIC figures show COPD led to over 13,242 hospital admissions the West Midlands in 2013-14. Nationally, COPD led to over 113,000 emergency hospital admissions in England in 2013-143.

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.

Alongside the impact on quality on life, 460 deaths in Shropshire between 2012 and 2014 were attributable to COPD . Around 86% of national COPD deaths are caused by smoking.

Dr Kevin Lewis, director of ip&e’s Help2Change, 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 call Help2Change on 0345 678 9025, your local stop smoking service, to get the help and support you need to quit smoking for good.”

Clinical lead for COPD at Royal Brompton Hospital, Reader in respiratory medicine at Imperial College London and medical adviser to the British Lung Foundation, Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, said:

“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, said:

“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.”

Josh Silverstone, 34, is from Salford, with two children aged 7 and 10.

Josh first picked up a cigarette at the age of 11, and at present he is on approximately 15 a day, meaning he spends around £150 a month on smoking.

All three of his brothers also smoke, as do most of his friends. His grandma had emphysema and people in his family have died from cancer which could well have been linked to smoking.

Josh has been trying to give up for a while mainly because of his young children. Family have asked him to quit in the past but do not keep on too much.

Josh doesn’t have any health problems associated with smoking and is not really familiar with what COPD is, but does feel like his chest is heavy at times.

Josh said that:

“Meeting someone with COPD was a real eye opener, I could feel and hear how short of breath you can get, just walking around a room. I am now determined more than ever to give up smoking for both myself and my kids. Whatever happens now is my choice – I have got to help myself. I’d urge everyone else who smokes to give up with me this January.”

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.

Further information

  • For more information please contact healthharms@freuds.com
  • PHE exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and well-being, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through advocacy, partnerships, world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. For more information on PHE visit www.gov.uk/phe or follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk.
  • All 2015 campaign images, TV adverts and online content can be downloaded by media at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/80qbva0w8mpj73t/AADhJQhk3f5zDaKC94gkOqUAa?dl=0
  • For more campaign assets, including case studies please contact: healthharms@freuds.com or call 07534 258080.
  • While smoking rates have declined over past decades, smoking is still the biggest cause of preventable illness and premature deaths in the country – accounting for almost 80,000 deaths in England a year. One in every two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking related disease unless they quit.

For further information or images, please contact: angharad.jetley@help2changeshropshire.nhs.uk.

freuds, 1 Stephen Street, London, W1T 1AL

Tel: 020 300 6561, Out of hours: 0791 258 3075 Email: healthharms@freuds.com