What is COPD and are you at risk?

Medical staff at Westmead Hospital are raising awareness of COPD.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a group of progressive lung conditions including:

  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic asthma.

The condition causes narrowing of the bronchial tubes in the lungs (sometimes called bronchi or airways) and this makes it difficult to breathe.

While COPD is a progressive and (currently) incurable disease, with the right diagnosis and treatment there are many things you can do to manage your condition and breathe better. People can live for many years with COPD and still enjoy a good quality of life.

It is estimated that it impacts almost 1.5 million people across Australia.

The main risk factor for developing COPD is tobacco smoking.

“COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death in the world but is projected to be the third leading cause of death by 2020,”

“It affects around one in seven Australians over the age of 40 years and is a major cause of chronic morbidity and mortality throughout the world.”

Western Sydney Local Health District clinical nurse consultant, Vinita Swami said COPD represents an important public health challenge. 

Nursing staff from ward B5A/C raised awareness of the condition during world COPD day recently by holding an afternoon tea and playing an online quiz. 

The aim was to improve knowledge about COPD to assist clinicians in delivering evidence based care and in turn empower patients to manage their chronic illness better.

COPD is not curable but it can be more effectively treated if it is diagnosed early.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of COPD include:

  • breathlessness
  • susceptibility to chest infections
  • cough and phlegm production
  • fatigue.

If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP.  

For help and information on how to quit smoking visit www.icanquit.com.au or call Quitline on 13 QUIT (13 78 48).