Exercise can battle breathlessness

From The Australian, 21 November 2008:
IT happens regularly in Barry Blaikie’s life: he finds himself standing breathless and paralysed in a street or shopping mall, trying desperately to drag enough oxygen into his damaged lungs to take that next step. People stop to help and ask him what’s wrong, and he’s brutally honest about his condition.
“I tell people straightaway I’ve got airways disease.” But it’s the next question that always bothers him. “Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, someone says ‘did you smoke?’ And you know what happens when you say yes — all recognition just switches straight off,” says Blaikie, the 73-year-old former West Australian state MP who quit smoking more than 30 years ago.
“If you have AIDS there is some empathy — if you smoke there’s none, if you have smoked there’s none.”
Airways disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is an umbrella term for several different conditions with the shared features of chronic, irreversible and worsening breathlessness. The most common conditions that come into the COPD category are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Most people with COPD, but not all, have smoked.
According to a report released last week by the Australian Lung Foundation, this year COPD cost the Australian economy an estimated $98 billion in healthcare costs, lost productivity and loss of wellbeing. Heather Allan, executive director of the foundation’s COPD National Program, says the report confirms fears about the high prevalence of COPD. The report shows 2.1 million Australians currently have some form of COPD and of those, 1.2 million have symptomatic COPD. Read more.

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