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Feeling more breathless? Consult your doctor

29th Jul 2016
Feeling more breathless? Consult your doctor

A new campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the possible links between feeling breathless more often than usual and lung disease. We all get out of breath sometimes, especially after physical exercise, and this is a normal response to physical exertion.

However, if you have noticed that you are getting breathless more quickly than normal, or after doing everyday activities, or that you now take longer to do things because you get out of breath, then it is time to consult your doctor.

Health charities want to raise awareness of the warning signs of lung conditions, which can include cancer and heart disease. Symptoms such as a persistent cough (cough that lasts for more than 3 weeks) or finding you now get out of breath more easily when doing activities you previously did – such as the gardening, hoovering or even just going upstairs, could potentially be a sign of lung or heart disease.

Many people assume it means they are unfit or getting older and put off seeing their GP, but any increase in breathlessness should be checked out by a doctor just to eliminate the possibility of an underlying illness. Diagnosing lung or heart conditions earlier can make them more treatable.

The campaign is predominantly aimed at men and women aged 50 and over – but anyone concerned about their health should seek medical advice. However, older people are more at risk from

  • coronary heart disease, the main type of heart disease and the single biggest cause of death, accounting for more than 56,000 deaths in England each year
  • lung cancer, the biggest cancer killer, accounting for about 28,400 deaths each year
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), accounting a further 24,000 deaths

It is estimated that around 1.7 million people in England could be living with un diagnosed heart and lung disease. This includes around 800 un- diagnosed cases of lung cancer, over half a million with coronary artery heart disease and a million with COPD. The campaign encourages anyone experiencing a persistent cough or increased breathlessness to see their GP.

Chief Executive of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Paula Chadwick, said: “So many people may otherwise ‘shrug off’ something like a persistent cough, yet to do so can have potentially devastating consequences.

Rachel Kayani

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