Undiagnosed lung disease in one in seven


About one in seven Irish people has undiagnosed lung disease, research published this morning shows. The study, being presented at the annual meeting of the Irish Thoracic Society in Limerick today, also suggests that for people who are aged 60 and over and who have a history of smoking, the level of undiagnosed disease is doubled.

The research is based on data from 515 people at 10 locations across the country in June who were offered lung function tests and who completed questionnaires. It points to a significant level of undiagnosed chronic lung disease, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), in the population.

Lung disease causes one in five deaths in Ireland, and is the third most common reason for acute hospital admission.

“Lung disease is one of the most common reasons to visit the doctor and is often diagnosed at a late stage when damage to the lungs is irreversible and debilitating,” said Dr Edward McKone, lead author and consultant physician in respiratory medicine at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin.

Welcoming the study, Prof Tim McDonnell, clinical lead for the National COPD programme, said the majority of those identified in the study suffer from COPD. “We know that both under-diagnosis and low awareness levels are major challenges in the management of COPD in Ireland. ”