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IMG_3641Today, 18 November 2015, the European COPD Coalition (ECC) organised free lung testing (spirometry) in the Berlaymont, the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels. More than 250 civil servants’ breathing capacity were assessed and information shared about COPD. The aim of the event was to raise awareness on the condition with the staff working for top EU decision makers, so that they could understand the importance of the disease and invite, with ECC their employers to take action.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is a long-term lung and airways disease that is not curable. It affects up to 10% of the European adult population – and yet very few people know about it.

COPD causes wheezing, shortness of breath, persistent cough, chest tightness, and other symptoms. It makes breathing very difficult. And you cannot breathe, nothing else matters. It is the 5th cause of death and will be the 3rd at global level by 2030 according to WHO, if we don’t take appropriate action to stop it. COPD is the 3rd chronic disease, after cardiovascular diseases, cancer and before diabetes, in terms of prevalence, incidence and mortality. Every year, 200,000 people die of COPD in the EU.

ECC listed in its Call to Action 22 measures that should be adopted at European and Member State level to address the disease – Catherine Hartmann, Secretary General of ECC said: “these are concrete, pragmatic measures that should be implemented to drastically slow the progression of the disease and better prevent it. We believe that EU politicians have a key role to play and budgets to adopt to help stop the development of a disease that is almost fully preventable. We hope that EC staff will relay this message internally.

Commissioner for health, Vytenis Andriukaitis showed his support to the initiative by taking the test himself [see picture], he underlined that earlier diagnosis is essential for a better management of the disease and highlighted that prevention, including of lung diseases, is one of his main priorities.

The feedback from people who took the test was very positive, with many of them asking for the event to be repeated every year. Others, consulted our quit smoking specialist for advice and direction, with some indicating clear signs of COPD.

If you want to get your lung tested and/or are worried that you may be suffering from COPD, please ask your doctor.

For more information:

–  World Health Organisation (WHO):
– European Respiratory Society (ERS):
– the British Lung Foundation (BLF):


November 18th, 2015 | Published in Early diagnosis, World COPD Day,