Health president in Stamford Hill to mark World Spirometry Day

People urged to get tested if they are short of breath

THE OUTGOING President of the European Respiratory Society visited Stamford Hill this morning to encourage people to test their lungs.

Nikolaos Siafakas, a professor of respiratory disease at the University of Crete, flew from the Greek island to attend the testing site in Morrisons supermarket, one of thousands happening across the world to mark World Spirometry Day.

Health professionals are hoping to catch chronic bronchitis and COPD (also known as emphysema) early so patients can avoid a life being hooked up to heavy oxygen tanks.

Prof Siafakas’s organisation wants to make lung tests by small computers, called spirometers, free to everyone in the world.

He said: “Most COPD is caused by cigarette smoking, in China they use charcoal to cook which can cause it and there’s a little bit of environmental pollution but mainly it’s cigarettes. The treatment is to give up smoking.

“Approximately 60 per cent of people suffering from COPD don’t know but we can detect it with just one little blow. The machines we use are cheap, around 500 Euros (�440) so we think everyone should have them.”

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The test takes just a few minutes and works by measuring the volume and speed of air blown into a tube.

Shopper Harry Wingrove, 61, of Osbaldeston Road, tried it. He said: “I think it’s brilliant to have this here. You can get tested here easier instead of going to the hospital, I just came in and saw it and decided to get it done.”

Homerton Hospital nurse consultant, Matthew Hodgson said: “A lot of people think that their shortness of breath is to do with them being a smoker but what they don’t realise is that there’s an underlying respiratory disease that’s causing it.”

Community Physiotherapist Claire Davey helps out sufferers for City and Hackney NHS. Patients are referred to Hackney gyms for an exercise and education programme.

“The best thing you can do for people is try and make them fitter and stronger,” she said.

“We find in that people who cannot walk up the stairs at the beginning can make it to the top after coming to see us once of twice a week for eight weeks.”

Between ten to 15 per cent of the adult population have COPD. Health professionals advise anybody suffering from shortness of breath to ask for a test from their GP.