Mon, Nov 11, 2019 - Page 2 News List

HPA warns on danger of killer pulmonary disease

NO SMOKING:Wednesday next week is World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day, a disorder that killed 3 million people last year across the globe

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Health Promotion Administration personnel hold a news conference in Taipei on Thursday to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ahead of World COPD Day on Wednesday next week.

Photo: Wu Liang-yi, Taipei Times

The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) urged people not to neglect symptoms of long-term coughing, wheezing and excess mucus, as a WHO report shows that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was the third-most common cause of death last year.

According to the report, COPD claims more than 3 million lives around the world each year.

The HPA added that chronic lower respiratory disease is the seventh-most common cause of death in Taiwan, claiming more than 6,000 lives each year, among which more than 5,000 were from COPD.

Smoking is a major risk factor for COPD, and a study suggests that the risk of COPD in smokers increases six-fold when compared with non-smokers. The risk increases with prolonged smoking durations, it said.

HPA Director-General Wang Ying-wei (王英偉) said that the burning of cigarettes releases more than 7,000 chemicals, of which 93 are known to be harmful or potentially harmful, with dozens of them linked to cancer.

Long-term cigarette smoking is associated with chronic inflammation in the respiratory tract, mucus accumulation in the lungs and destruction of the bronchiolar and alveolar tissues, causing COPD, he said.

Most COPD sufferers do not have any noticeable symptoms until they reach their 40s or 50s, when significant lung damage has occurred, and the symptoms usually worsen over time, Wang said.

Taiwan Society of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine board member Lin Ching-hsiung (林慶雄), a physician at Changhua Christian Hospital, said common symptoms are daily coughing, wheezing and excess mucus, which can often be mistaken for cold symptoms.

As a result, many patients are first diagnosed with advanced stages of COPD only when they begin to experience shortness of breath or limits to physical activity.

Lotung Poh-Ai Hospital vice superintendent Chiu Kuo-chin (邱國欽) said people who suffer continuous coughing, excess mucus and shortness of breath for more than three weeks are recommended to see a doctor in thoracic medicine for a thorough checkup.

The HPA said World COPD Day, which is to take place on Wednesday next week, is organized by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease to raise awareness of COPD and to improve prevention and treatment of this disease.

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