Archive for September, 2011


COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease leads to severe shortness of breath, and it can in some cases, lead to death. The World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2030, COPD will be the leading cause of death on the planet. Despite its increasing prevalence, many people have never heard of this disease. Dr. Brian Goldman recently spoke on CBC news about this disease and its increasing occurrence.

Recently, a Canadian study was published in The Lancet, which looked at COPD and it’s prevalence in our population. The study looked at everyone in Ontario between the ages of 35 and 80 who had not been diagnosed with COPD in 1996. The study followed these people for 14 years to see what happened to them in terms of respiratory disease. At the end of the study 580,000 Ontarians contracted COPD. These numbers were used to calculate the risk of developing this disease, which they found was 27 percent, or a 1 in 4 risk of developing this disease over your lifetime. This is a very serious disease, and can prove fatal. A man age 65 who currently smokes, and is diagnosed with severe COPD, could lose 6 years off his life expectancy. As compared to other diseases, the risk of developing heart failure is lower than the risk of developing COPD, and for a 35 year old woman, her chance of developing COPD is three times higher than her chances of developing breast cancer. This same risk holds true for a 35 year old man in regards to his risk of developing prostate cancer. Diabetes is the only similar disease with the same likelihood of development.

So if it’s so common, why haven’t we heard of it? This is partially due to the fact that many doctors are unaware of its prevalence, and it is sometimes under diagnosed. The biggest factor in its relative obscurity is the fact that many people feel that it is a disease that is self-inflicted, that it is caused solely by smoking, and only smokers develop COPD. This is not always the case, as the rates of smoking are decreasing due to the success of smoke cessation programs, however the rates of COPD are increasing. Researchers are not sure why this is, however they are currently looking at the incidence of asthma early in life and the rates of COPD development as we age, and any links that may exist between the two. As more and more non-smokers develop COPD, it becomes increasingly apparent that this is not a self-inflicted disease.

What does this mean for Canada as a whole? More and more people are developing this disease, which means more hospital admissions due to shortness of breath, bronchitis and other conditions which may require hospital treatment and antibiotics. Also more and more people with end stage COPD may have to be treated by putting them on ventilators. Not only is this difficult due to the fact that it is very hard to then get off the ventilator, but in the future the use of these machines is predicted to increase, and we may need more of them, as more people’s health and lives will depend on them.

There is no cure for this disease, and more research is needed to fully understand the causes. Right now COPD is still linked to smoking, so the continuation of smoking cessation programs is key. If you are a smoker right now, it’s never too late to quit, and prevent any further damage to your lung function.

The information for this topic was taken from CBC radio. Provided below is the link to this audio clip, as well as a link to the Lancet, which is where the research from this study is published.




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Fall Clean Up

It’s that time of year again, time to rake and bag the leaves, clean up the flower beds and clean out the eavestroughs. While you’re undertaking all these tasks, make sure you don’t forget to take care of your back. Be sure you are using good posture, activate your core muscles to take the strain off your spine, and rest as needed – Rome wasn’t built in a day!

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