I would like to urge all smokers in Hartlepool to quit and reduce their risk of developing a disease which can leave you fighting for breath.

The “Every Breath” campaign from Fresh is relaunching to raise awareness that smoking causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and is being supported by the British Lung Foundation.

COPD is the UK’s fifth biggest killer, is mainly caused by smoking and feeling breathless is an early sign. Sufferers can end up feeling like they are suffocating and one major study suggests at least 1 in 4 smokers will develop clinically significant COPD.

The North East is one of the hardest hit regions with an estimated 93,277 people living with the condition. In Hartlepool and Stockton 9764 people are estimated to be living with COPD.

The North East also has the highest hospital admission rates from COPD with around 8,729 people admitted in 2011.

Smoking is the single biggest cause of the condition, responsible for around 80% of cases with every cigarette smoked causing further damage. There are varying levels of severity but once the damage is done, it is irreversible. Quitting smoking is the one clear way to reduce your risk.

COPD is a disease that too many smokers are not aware of until they are diagnosed, but research suggests that more than a quarter of smokers will develop it.

Those figures are truly alarming, especially when so many people who smoke do suffer from early warning signs like feeling short of breath but dismiss them as a “normal” part of smoking. Not being able to breathe properly is something nobody wants to happen to them.

Regular checks with your GP are a really important way of looking after your lungs.  If you’re a smoker, ask your GP about help to quit.  Figures show the average smoker could save £7 a day – that’s £2,555 a year!

We only get one pair of lungs, so let’s make a big effort to look after them.  If you have any symptoms of COPD, make an appointment to see your GP or your practice nurse if you practice runs COPD nurse clinics.


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