A new Australian website will also help more than 200,000 New Zealand emphysema sufferers and their families
Breatheagain.com.au is designed to provide emphysema patients and their support network with comprehensive information about the disease.
It also offers the latest on novel treatment options, and helps them connect with respiratory physicians specialising in this field.
According to Professor Hubertus Jersmann, a leading Respiratory Physician at The Royal Adelaide Hospital, “Optimal management of emphysema requires a diagnosis, the earlier the better.
“This website is a great resource for patients, relatives and doctors alike and helps navigate an increasingly complex and potentially confusing space.”
Emphysema, a form of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), severely affects quality of life, capacity to exercise and sleep patterns.
It is often associated with other health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and depression.
The main cause of COPD is long-term exposure to substances that irritate and damage the lungs; nearly all COPD in New Zealand is smoking-related.
There is no cure for COPD, so prevention (i.e. not smoking) is best.
Although often undiagnosed, COPD affects about 1 in 7 adults aged over 45 years (at least 200,000 New Zealanders) and is common in older age groups.
It is a common cause of hospitalisation, especially in winter, and is the 4th most common cause of death in NZ after cancer, heart disease and stroke.
The number of people with COPD is increasing due to high rates of smoking but by the time someone develops symptoms of cough, wheeze and shortness of breath, over half their lungs are damaged beyond repair.
At any stage, quitting smoking is the most important step to treat COPD.