Exercise physiologist Julie Barnes records the progress of Alan Green during the new pulmonary rehabilitation program at Community Health in Rockhampton.
Exercise physiologist Julie Barnes records the progress of Alan Green during the new pulmonary rehabilitation program at Community Health in Rockhampton. Supplied

Time for Alan to catch his breath

ALAN Green started smoking when he was just 12. He kicked the habit 25 years ago, but is still paying a huge price for it.

Mr Green, 74, has emphysema and asbestosis and breathing does not come easily.

He is among the first group of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients to undertake a special Queensland Health program in Rockhampton.

Today (Wednesday, November 18) is World COPD Day, with the theme “catch your breath” to raise awareness of lung health.

Exercise physiologist Julie Barnes has started a pulmonary rehabilitation program which aims to help people with COPD manage their conditions.

The program aims to help participants increase their exercise tolerance and improve physical function, reduce breathlessness, improve their quality of life, improve their mood and motivation and increase their participation in everyday activities.

Mr Green said that, since he started the program a few weeks ago, he had already noticed an improvement in his breathing.

He said he was happy to be in the program’s first intake. “I would try anything,” he said.

Ms Barnes said COPD – an irreversible, degenerative condition – included emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

The condition affects about one in six Australians over the age of 45 and often causes breathlessness.

It is the fifth biggest killer and the third leading cause of disease burden in Australia after heart disease and stroke.

Ms Barnes takes referred patients through an eight-week program which provides education, exercise and social support, following evidence-based guidelines of the Australian Lung Foundation.

“We use a multi-disciplinary approach for the education sessions, with advice from a pharmacist, nutritionist, physiotherapist and social worker,” she said.

Participants are referred through Rockhampton Hospital specialist physicians, who provide medical clearance for participants before they start exercising.

The participants’ lung capacity and strength are tested at the start and completion of the program so that improvements can be measured.

The Australian Lung Foundation says there are things you can do about COPD to help you breathe easier.

For information on COPD and support for people with COPD, phone the foundation on 1800 654 301, or go to www.lungfoundation.com.au.

COPD checklist

If you answer YES to three or more of these questions, you may have COPD, and should contact your doctor to have a simple lung test.

Do you cough several times most days?

Do you bring up phlegm or mucus most days?

Do you get out of breath more easily than others your age?

Are you over 45 years old?

Are you a smoker or ex-smoker?



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