14 October 2010
By Anuradha Mascarenhas
FOR those who ignore their repiratory system, October 14 will come as a reminder to get their lungs health checked. For the first time ever, October 14 will be observed as World Spirometry Day. Spirometer is a tool that aids in diagnosis of asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Pune–based Chest Research Foundation (CRF), in association with Cipla Private Limited, conducted spirometry health camps for 1700 people from Pune, Chennai, Jaipur, Kota, Coimbatore and Kolkata in the first week of October to determine the usefulness of the spirometer in diagnosing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Of those who took the test, 6.4 per cent were found to have either asthma or COPD. As many as 76 per cent were not aware of their respiratory problems and 34 per cent of the people who took the test showed presence of early small airways obstruction, a sensitive parameter on spirometry that indicates early asthma or early COPD.
Chronic lung diseases account
for the biggest disease burden affecting an estimated 100 million people, CRF director Dr Sundeep Salvi said. "All the respiratory societies across the world have decided to observe World Spirometry Day on October 14. A spirometer is a tool that helps us diagnose asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It is the fourth biggest cause of death in the world and the most common cause of death in Maharashtra according to a recent report," said Salvi.
He said COPD is mainly caused by tobacco smoking and exposure to high levels of indoor and outdoor air pollutants. Spirometry can also help determe the severity of asthma and COPD. It is not a widely–used test with the result that asthma and COPD often go undiagnosed. "Earlier studies from USA and Europe reported that if a doctor relied only on history and clinical examination to arrive at a diagnosis of asthma and COPD, more than 50 per cent of the patients could go undiagnosed. Spirometry is the gold standard diagnostic test for asthma and COPD," said Salvi.
CRF has been conducting training programmes on spirometry for doctors for the past seven years and has trained more than 1500 doctors so far. The foundation launched the Spirometry Simplified E–learning module on Thursday. The three–hour learning module provides instructions about spirometry in a simplified manner using 3D animations and graphics. The webbased programme is aimed at training doctors about spirometry to encourage its use and initiate early treatment.
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