Hunter Medical Research Institute respiratory researchers will offer free lung function tests and information sessions for members of the public to mark World COPD Day on Wednesday, November 20.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, an umbrella term for emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma, affects almost 13% of Australians aged 40 or over – half of whom unknowingly mistake their symptoms as signs of ageing or lack of fitness.
Researchers hope to raise awareness of this condition and provide education to the community about a disease that is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide and costs the Australian economy $9 billion a year.
“A simple spirometry test for lung function can help with early diagnosis,” Associate Professor Vanessa McDonald, a research leader in the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Disease, said.
“There is no cure for COPD but by managing the disease at the early stages we can reduce the burden, slow the progression and improve people’s quality of life.”
People who undergo a lung test during the information day will be given results to take to their GP. It’s a check-up for those who know they have COPD and peace of mind for those who don’t.
Associate Professor McDonald, the reigning HMRI Early Career Researcher of the Year, is recruiting for a clinical trial aimed at developing personalised management approaches to COPD.
“We are trialling medications that target different types of inflammation,” she said. “Participants will receive the individualised treatment and monitoring during the trial – they just have to come in once a month for the first six months, then at the 12- and 18-month stages.
“We have been recruiting through John Hunter Hospital but people are sometimes on existing medication that precludes them from the study or they are unwell – ideally we need them to be relatively stable.”
Two 30-minute information sessions will be conducted by Associate Professor McDonald and Professor Peter Gibson with a central theme of “Living Well with Lung Disease”. These will be held at 12.30 and 1pm.
The World COPD Day event will be held at the HMRI Building on the John Hunter Hospital campus from midday to 2pm, Wednesday, November 20. Free public parking is available at the HMRI Building.
HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.