Lung disease a major health threat – The Post

Lung disease a major health threat

Plans in place for a program for earlier detection and treatment of degenerative breathing illnesses

The government is focusing on lungs (photo: bykyst)
December 7th, 2015 3:48 pm| by Ray W

About 170,000 Danes have been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a lung disorder formerly known as emphysema. The health department Sundhedsstyrelsen believes that just as many people may be walking around with the disease without knowing they have it.

The government, along with the Danish health regions and the municipal association Kommunernes Landsforeningen, have today released a co-operative action plan on how COPD can be detected and treated sooner.

“We must start with the correct treatment at a much earlier stage than today,” Sophie Løhde, the health minister, told Politiken. “We cannot cure COPD, but we can give people a lot more good years with early detection and proper treatment.”

Lofty goals
The goal is for 360,000 Danes to be tested for COPD over the next four years.

The hope is that an early detection will help suffers get treatment to slow or stop the degradation of lung tissue brought on by COPD.

The government has allocated 250 million kroner to campaigns over the next four years that will disseminate information to the public about the lung disease. It will unveil a nationwide prevention campaign in March.

An historic programme
Lungeforeningen, the lung association, is pleased that the government is taking the lung disease seriously.

“This is the first time in the history of Denmark, since the fight against tuberculosis a hundred years ago, that there has been a clear focus on lung diseases,” said Lungeforeningen head Johannes Flensted-Jensen.

READ MORE: Some 200,000 Danes unaware of having deadly lung disease

COPD is believed to cost around 3,500 Danes their lives every year. In addition, the disease is responsible for about a tenth of the hospitalisations in the country.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

What is it: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic condition caused by the inflammation of the airways leading to the narrowing and progressive break-down of lung tissue, ultimately obstructing airway flow.
How common is it: around 300,000-400,000 Danish people suffer from this disease. Almost all of them are smokers and aged 60 years+
Risk factors: smoking, long-term exposure to air pollution and irritants, chronic bronchitis
Occupations at risk: coal mining, work involving welding, work in cotton textile industry, gold mining
Signs & symptoms: coughing, shortness of breath, coughing up phlegm
Prognosis: COPD is a non-curable progressive disease
Treatment: Smoking cessation, exercise, breathing control exercises
More information:,