June 18, 2008

Huge Cash Boost AIDS Fight Against Breathing Problems

By Gareth Rose

Gym equipment at health centres gives sufferers new hope

GYM equipment has been installed in Edinburgh health centres as part of a new GBP 238,000 bid to help people with breathing problems.

Health chiefs want to give a new lease of life to people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Sufferers of long-term health conditions, such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema, can become prisoners in their own homes because they get breathless so quickly.

The COPD service teaches them breathing techniques, improves their general fitness through gym machines, and encourages them to eat healthier food and give up smoking.

It has been running out of Leith Community Treatment Centre and has not been expanded to Gracemount and Sighthill medical centres.

Susan McNarry, respiratory physiotherapist, said: "This addition to the current service is set to make a real impact on the lives of patients suffering from COPD."

The expansion of the service has received GBP 168,000 from NHS Lothian's Edinburgh Community Health Partnership, and GBP 70,000 from Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland.

This has been used to buy a new exercise bike, treadmill, hand weights, and pulse oximeters, which measure oxygen saturation of the blood and can be a good way of detecting lung disease.

People with COPD have lungs which are damaged in some way and therefore need careful monitoring.

David Small, general manager of Edinburgh Community Health Partnership, said: "We want to offer all patients in Edinburgh who suffer from COPD conditions access to services that will improve their quality of life."

The programme offers patients 12 sessions over a six-week period. During this time, patients take part in a range of exercise programmes, designed to increase fitness, improve muscle strength and decrease breathlessness.

Treatment is tailored for the individual needs of each patient, and based on the results of their individual assessment.

Hundreds of people will benefit from the new initiative. Last year, people were admitted to hospitals in Lothian because of COPD problems on 2030 occasions.

The Scotland Patients Association called for more to be done to help people with breathing difficulties nationwide.

Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the SPA, said: "I do welcome this expansion but I don't think GBP 240,000 is enough to help the number of people suffering from these kind of problems, irrespective of whether they smoke.

"This sounds like a very good initiative and I hope it is rolled out even more widely across Edinburgh and the wider Scotland area."

Marching to a different tune

DAVID AKERS worked as a postman and spent his days trotting up and down the stairwells of Edinburgh.

So when the 61-year-old grandfather developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, he soon felt the effects.

Mr Akers, from Restalrig, said: "I started to get chest infections and would have to take days of work.

"But even when I wasn't ill I still struggled. I would get out of breath quickly and had to use my inhaler a lot."

He quit his job two years ago - less than two years after being diagnosed - and tried to get used to the fact his life had changed forever.

Mr Akers, who is a former smoker, said: "It's not something you can cure. It's depressing and I got very depressed. Even bending over to tie my shoelaces left me out of breath."

However, he was directed to the Leith Community Treatment Centre, where he took part in an eight-week course.

In particular, he was taught breathing techniques to help him manage his condition.

He said: "I can do everything now."

Originally published by Gareth Rose Health Reporter.

(c) 2008 Evening News; Edinburgh (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.