Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 9:20 EDT

New Data Reveals Public Ignorance About the Impact of Lung Disease

June 26, 2012

LONDON, June 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –

New data released by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) to
coincide with World Spirometry Day today has revealed a lack of understanding and concern
among the public about the world’s biggest killer[1] – lung disease, which now claims the
lives of almost 4 million people a year[2].

Despite the high incidence of lung disease, research conducted by YouGov across four
continents revealed that people are more worried about cancer, heart disease and
stroke[3]. This lack of concern is even more striking as data shows that while the other
major diseases have been decreasing as a cause of death in the last three decades, death
due to COPD has doubled in the same period.

As well as underestimating the impact of lung disease, the public poll reveals a lack
of understanding about how to manage it. Despite the fact that simple lung tests like
spirometry can help detect conditions such as COPD and asthma before the onset of
debilitating symptoms, the survey revealed that the majority, 57%, of respondents have
never had their lungs tested.

The research also revealed that 70% thought that those with lung disease were unable
to undertake even moderate exercise like swimming. However, in reality, physical activity
can help to manage and improve the symptoms of lung disease such as breathlessness, even
in the most severe cases.

As the world gears up to the Olympics, FIRS is using the data to urge people to get
their lungs tested and to get active to improve their lung health. On World Spirometry
Day, and throughout the build up to the Olympics, healthcare professionals will be taking
to the streets across the globe to run public lung testing events to raise awareness of
spirometry testing. The test, which usually takes less than 10 minutes[4], is the most
effective way of testing lung health.

The Chair of FIRS and President of the European Respiratory Society (ERS), Klaus Rabe,

“Chronic lung disease is a major health issue but – as the FIRS poll shows – its
burden continues to be underestimated. There is widespread ignorance not only around the
seriousness of lung disease but about what can be done to prevent it. As countries across
the world celebrate the achievements of the world’s best athletes – we feel the time is
right to focus on how we can all improve our lung health.

Supporters include Norwegian Olympic rower, Olaf Tufte, who has won two gold and one
silver medal, despite suffering from severe allergic asthma:

“I am determined not to let my asthma limit me or restrict my ambitions. Instead, I
see it as one challenge among many that I need to master in order to come top in my sport.
People with lung conditions can lead healthy, active lives – if they take steps to ensure
their condition is identified early enough and treated well.”

For information about World Spirometry Day, and testing events taking place

in your area or across Europe, please visit:


1. World Health Organization, Top Ten Causes of Death. Fact Sheet no. 310. Last
accessed on 18.04.12 at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/index.html.
When all lung diseases (Lower respiratory infections, lung cancer, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD) and tuberculosis) are combined, lung diseases are the leading
cause of death.

2. NCD Alliance, Chronic Respiratory Diseases, last accessed on 07.03.12 at:


3. The most feared diseases (in order) are: Cancer (38%), Heart Disease (19%), and
Stroke (9%). Source YouGov Survey, May 2012

4. European Lung Foundation, Spirometry Factsheet,


SOURCE Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS)

Source: PR Newswire