Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a number of conditions including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is a progressive, irreversible lung disease which kills around 30,000 people a year in the UK - more than breast, bowel or prostate cancer.
Early diagnosis of COPD is vital as it allows patients to take steps to slow down the progression of the disease, and live healthy lives for longer and avoid expensive emergency care. However, not enough patients are diagnosed early enough.
There are an estimated 3.7 million people in the UK with COPD, yet only 900,000 people diagnosed with the disease. This leaves approximately 2.8 million people that are unaware they have the disease which, if left untreated, could severely restrict their lives and eventually kill them. These people are the ‘missing millions’ with COPD.
Each year the British Lung Foundation focuses its campaigning around World COPD Day, an annual event organised by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) to improve awareness and care of COPD around the world. Last year's World COPD Day took place on Wednesday 17th November 2010. The theme of the BLF's campaign was get tested - you could be one of the missing millions. If you think you may be at risk of COPD then you can take our Breath Test or watch our online Web TV show.
This year's World COPD Day will take place on Wednesday 16th November 2011. To download a campaign poster to help raise awareness of the symptoms of COPD go to the related links above.