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Regular Lung Testing Critical to Preventing Death from Lung Disease

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

World Lung Foundation (WLF) released the following statement in support of the first-ever World Spirometry Day, a coordinated global effort to raise awareness of the need for regular lung testing:

“It is predicted that in 2030 12.5 million deaths (17% of all deaths) will be caused by lung disease. This mortality rate is so high in part because many thousands of people with a preventable form of lung disease go undiagnosed, especially in low and middle income countries.

The most prevalent, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), is under-diagnosed in 75% of cases, and global figures show half of all sufferers remain un-diagnosed. Widespread under-diagnosis means sufferers only realize they have a serious lung disease once it is too late to prevent major damage, leaving them unable to carry on a healthy and active life. Women and men are at equal risk of developing the condition, with those most at risk being over 40 and current or ex-smokers.

Regular and early lung testing helps health professionals to identify potentially debilitating lung conditions before too much damage is done, giving the patient a chance to slow the disease's progression before it completely ruins their lung function.

Governments should invest in adequate supplies of diagnostic tools and training of health practitioners. Additionally, they should make regular lung testing a standard part of all physical examinations and investment should also be made into social marketing programs that prompt people to request lung tests. Early diagnosis provides the best chance of success and costs much less than treating lung diseases after the damage may already be done.”

World Spirometry day is being coordinated by the European Respiratory Society as part of the Year of The Lung. On October 14, hundreds of free lung testing events will be held around the world. For more information, please visit