Revealed: Simple, painless test that saves lives at Newham University Hospital

A HEALTH promotion event aimed at reducing the number of people who needlessly die from a progressive and irreversible – yet preventable and treatable – disease, was held at Newham University Hospital NHS Trust.

A HEALTH promotion event aimed at reducing the number of people who needlessly die from a progressive and irreversible – yet preventable and treatable – disease, was held at Newham University Hospital NHS Trust.

The Trust’s Respiratory Nurses joined the Newham Breathe Easy Group in promoting the British Lung Foundation’s campaign to make the people of Newham aware of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). An estimated around 30,000 people die from COPD in the UK each year – more than breast, bowel and prostate cancer.

Staff, patients and the public had the opportunity to have on the spot spirometry (breathing) tests, their oxygen levels checked, and more.

COPD is a term used for a number of conditions, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Early diagnosis of COPD is vital as it allows people to take steps to slow down the progression of the disease and live healthy lives for longer and avoid emergency care. There are an estimated 3.7 million people in the UK who suffer from COPD, yet only 900,000 are diagnosed with the disease. If left untreated, it can severely restrict lives and eventually kill sufferers.


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Agnes Griffiths, local resident and COPD sufferer, was among those tested at the Newham event. She urged other people to do the same. She said:”I would tell people that once a person starts coughing on a regular basis, they should go to the doctors and ask for a spirometry test to see if they have COPD. I’ve known people to have it too late and their life expectancy is very short. I would strongly urge people to have the check. It’s much easier nowdays to be checked out than what it was years ago.”

Mrs Griffiths added: “Through having COPD, I lost my job and could no longer work. I was always ill with bronchitis and emphysema, and in and out of hospital. I was medically retired at the age of 52.

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“Since then I’ve joined the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Service. It’s got me fitter. It’s taught me that I can do more with regular exercise. I’m surrounded by health professionals.” Mrs Griffiths also attends Breathe Easy Newham, where she gets advice and information on a range of issues, as well as support. The former smoker said: “People should be educated not to smoke. COPD is a smoking-related disease. I’ve given up, and feel much better for it.”

Florence Cain is a fellow COPD sufferer and local resident who also attended the event. She said: “So many people don’t know that they’ve got COPD, so if they’re not checked, they could end up with severe lung problems.”

Radhica Ramoutar-Seepaul, COPD Nurse Specialist, said: “COPD is a highly prevalent disease, which has a large impact on quality of life and kills millions worldwide. The early stages are often unrecognised, but it is very easy to determine whether a person is at risk. Early symptoms are chronic cough, bringing up sputum, and breathlessness during physical activity. I would advise people with these symptoms, who also have a history of exposure to risk factors, to ask their doctor for a simple, painless spirometry test.”

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