Edinburgh-based charity Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) yesterday unveiled the free online scheme, known as My Lungs My Life, to help people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and for the people and parents of children who have asthma.
COPD is an umbrella term for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.
People with COPD can have difficulty breathing, a persistent throaty cough and frequent chest infections.
Public Health Minister Maureen Watt – who herself suffers from asthma – has backed the campaign.
She said: “People with asthma and other respiratory conditions, and their families, can sometimes feel anxious.
“They might feel constrained in their everyday lives, or worried about what might happen if they suffer an exacerbation of their COPD or an asthma attack in public.
“Through this website we want to show that, with proper self-management and support, there’s no reason why asthma or COPD should stop you from leading a full and active life.
“There is a wealth of valuable information in here and I’m sure it will become a valuable tool for anyone who is affected by respiratory illnesses.”
Attending the launch yesterday at the CHSS headquarters, in Haymarket, were members of the Cheyne Gang Choir, which was set up by a group of COPD patients last year to use singing as an alternative therapy.
Chorister Lenny Love had struggled to even tie his shoelaces without getting out of breath when he was diagnosed with COPD three-and-a-half years ago.
Mr Love, who lives in the Dean Village, said: “It makes it difficult to walk and even do basic tasks. Of course it impacts on every part of your life because you need to breathe to do anything.”
Since joining the choir, the 66-year-old said he had seen a dramatic improvement in his condition.
He said: “It has helped my breathing so much. I find myself doing the exercises while watching TV and the difference has been amazing.
“I hope other people can use this website to find out what this sort of thing can do to help.”
The content of My Lungs My Life was written by respiratory specialists from across Scotland and was reviewed by healthcare specialists and people living with COPD and asthma, along with their carers.
Project manager Fran Bailey said: “It has been designed to provide practical tips and advice to help people understand and manage their own condition better and to work with health professionals to improve their health, wellbeing and quality of life.”
My Life My Lungs includes information on diagnosis and treatment, film clips showing the correct use of inhalers, audio clips of relaxation techniques and practical self-management tips.
The project was delivered in partnership with NHS Education for Scotland, the British Lung Foundation and Edinburgh University, with funding from the Scottish Government.
Visit www.MyLungsMyLife.org for more details.
‘LIVING WITH IT’
CONSTANT chest infections were part of life for Marilyn Nisbet, forcing her to spend days in bed and consume a cocktail of antibiotics.
The 66-year-old, who was diagnosed with COPD 17 years ago, claims she has been given her life back after seeing rapid improvements to her condition thanks to breathing exercises she was assigned by the Cheyne Gang Choir.
Marilyn, who lives in Stockbridge, said: “Before I would have said I was dying of COPD but now I am living with it.”
Since she starting doing a range of breathing exercises daily, Marilyn has seen a sharp drop in the number of chest infections she has had, as well as finding her breathing much improved.
And she urged sufferers to use the new website to find out how to manage their condition.
“It has had a massive impact on my life,” she added.