COPD community care exercise programme launched in Westmeath

Ahead of World COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ) Day, which takes place on Wednesday, November 21, COPD Support Ireland, the umbrella body for 20 local COPD support groups, has announced a community-based exercise programme for people with COPD in County Westmeath.

COPD is a chronic lung condition whose primary symptoms are breathlessness, persistent cough, and regular chest infections.

The 12-week community programme is designed to support self-care, reduce flare-ups and hospitalisations in people with COPD, with a particular focus on issues such as smoking cessation, nutrition and inhaler advice. Exercise is a key aspect of treatment for patients with obvious physical health benefits such as increased muscle strength, agility, flexibility and aerobic endurance, in addition to the social and mental health benefits. The programme also helps to slow progression of the disease which will, in turn, lead to fewer GP and hospital visits. For more information on the programme, email [email protected] or telephone 086 041 5128.

Between 2015 and 2017 there were 975 hospital admissions for people with COPD in Westmeath and it is the most common cause of disease specific emergency admission to hospital among adults in Ireland.

COPD is caused primarily by smoking, but can also be the result of inhalation of dust or chemicals, or exposure to indoor or outdoor pollution, including fumes in the workplace over an extended period of time. Some people with an existing illness such as chronic asthma may be more prone to developing COPD, while others may be pre-disposed to it due to a hereditary lung condition known as Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

People over the age of 35, who are or have been smokers, who have symptoms or who have a family history of the disease, should ask their GP for a COPD health check. This is done through a very simple spirometry breathing test, which measures the amount of air and how fast a person can blow it out, following the taking of a deep breath.

A new booklet, COPD & Me, and public information packs, incorporating posters and leaflets, will also be available direct from COPD Support Ireland.

Members of the public wishing to speak to a respiratory nurse specialist can contact the COPD National Adviceline on Freefone 1800 83 21 46 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm ). COPD Support Ireland can also be found on Twitter @COPDSupportIre

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