Leeds exercise teacher supports ‘hidden’ lung disease campaign

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Exercise teacher Pat Goodacre may have a serious lung disease – but she is determined to carry on living her life.

Pat, from Kippax, Leeds, has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and has spoken out ahead of World COPD Day on Wednesday.

The 73-year-old is supporting a campaign by the British Lung Foundation after the charity revealed millions of people are unaware they have COPD.

COPD encompasses a number of conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. 115,000 people are diagnosed with COPD each year and sufferers in Leeds are 25 per cent more likely to die compared to national average.

Pat was diagnosed with emphysema after being misdiagnosed: “It was really frustrating. I pushed and pushed for a second opinion and after further tests, COPD, or emphysema as it was then called, was finally diagnosed.”

Pat has maintained a positive attitude and carried on with gentle exercise despite her diagnosis, first joining her local British Lung Foundation (BLF) Breathe Easy group and now teaching a class.

She said: “The key is to look after your lungs. Life goes on, and I’ve made many new friends through the Breathe Easy Group and exercise class.”

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the BLF, said: “COPD usually develops because of long-term damage to your lungs from breathing in a harmful substance, usually cigarette smoke, as well as smoke from other sources and air pollution. Jobs where people are exposed to dust, fumes and chemicals can also contribute to developing COPD. We’re aware of 1.2m people diagnosed with the condition but that’s the tip of the iceberg.”

The BLF is encouraging anyone who gets out of breath doing everyday tasks, such as walking up stairs, to take their lung health seriously.

The charity has set up a simple online breath test on its website: and wants people to take the test.

It is also calling on the government to set up a respiratory taskforce to develop a new five year strategy to improve lung health.

Other possible symptoms of COPD to watch out for include having a cough that lasts a long time, wheezing in cold weather, and producing more sputum or phlegm than usual. These might be constant or come and go.

For more: Call 03000 030 555 or visit www.blf.org.uk/COPD