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NICHS bid to get get chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients breathing better

Nearly 40,000 people live with COPD in Northern Ireland, up 43 per cent on 10 years ago

NORTHERN Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke has launched a campaign called ‘Breathing Better', encouraging health professionals, including GPs and pharmacists, to refer patients living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to the charity's Taking Control Self-Management Programme.

Nearly 40,000 people live with COPD in Northern Ireland, up 43 per cent on 10 years ago. For many, breathing difficulties can be severely debilitating, impacting on daily life and leading to repeated hospital admissions, poor sleep, anxiousness, isolation and depression.

Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke says that while COPD can't be cured, through careful management, people living with the disease can regain quality of life.

“For many people the important thing is meeting others with similar experiences and learning to manage their condition so they can get a good night's sleep and return to much loved hobbies," Fiona Greene of Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke said.

Frank Johnston is just one person who has been helped by the programme.

“COPD caused me to have exacerbations or crises every six weeks. Often I would end up in A&E not being able to breathe which was terrifying. I had to sleep sitting up, was forced to give up golf and became very sedentary, waiting for the end. Taking part in the Taking Control Programme changed all that," he said.

"Through careful management I can now sleep lying down, my lung function has improved and I've been able to take up golf again. Simply I have gone from a very dark place to having a future.”

Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke's Taking Control Self-Management Programme, is delivered via a weekly workshop over a six week period and is free of charge. Through the course people learn a range of self-management techniques.

:: For more information on the ‘Breathing Better' campaign visit nichs.org.uk or call 028 9032 0184.

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