The European Respiratory Society (ERS) is urging doctors and nurses across the UK to be prepared for an increase in demand for spirometry tests after over 3,000 people were given free tests to mark the first ever World Spirometry Day.
On Thursday 14 October, 24 free public lung testing events took place across the UK. Of the 3,625 people tested, an average 13% of participants were advised to visit their doctor for further examination – meaning UK healthcare professionals should expect to see higher than usual patient inquiries about lung health and spirometry testing in the days and weeks to come. In total, 61,376 spirometry tests were carried out over the world.
The first ever World Spirometry Day campaign was run by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), and is part of the Year of the Lung – a global effort to raise awareness of lung disease, which is set to become the third largest global killer by 2020.
Lung health campaigns in support of the testing events last week were fronted by Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, and headlines focused on the fact that 550 Europeans (80 Brits) die of preventable lung conditions each day.
In total 547 free public lung testing events took place across 34 European countries, with an additional 148 events occurring elsewhere around the globe.
While the European Respiratory Society was pleased with the huge public turnout, they are urging more health services across the UK to offer spirometry testing, and for national health services to provide more staff training on recording and interpreting spirometry results.
ERS is calling spirometric lung function tests "an MOT for the lungs" – giving people invaluable early information about potentially fatal, but largely preventable, diseases such as asthma, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – an umbrella term for chronic bronchitis and emphysema, in which the airways to the lungs become narrowed.
"The results of our first ever global public lung testing day illustrate just how many Brits could be facing the prospect of a slow, painful and debilitating old age due to lung diseases that were identified too late. By encouraging regular, proper lung tests, like those using spirometers, healthcare professionals across the UK can better help smokers and other people with poor respiratory health take back control of their health," said European Respiratory Society President, Professor Marc Decramer.