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19 November 2003



[Brussels, 19 November 2003]:The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) will today, World COPD Day, launch a website dedicated to educating and empowering people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The site will provide a much-needed resource for COPD patients and their carers across Europe. According to a recent World Health Report, 600 million people world-wide have COPD1, and while it is the only major cause of death in the world to be increasing2 - it remains highly under-recognised and undiagnosed.3

“COPD is now ranked as the fifth leading cause of death in Europe4 and by 2020 it will have become the third leading cause of death in the world, with only heart disease and cerebrovascular disease accounting for more deaths.  Despite this increase, people diagnosed with COPD often have nowhere to turn for information about disease management and family members and carers often feel at a loss about what they can do to help", said Svein-Erik Myrseth, President of EFA today in Oslo. "EFA is committed to de-mystifying COPD. We want to help these patients recognise and understand their disease and this website will not only raise the profile of COPD among patients and the public at-large, but will highlight to governments that COPD must become part of the political health agenda”.

The website will include lifestyle intervention advice to improve quality of life of patients as disease management.  To help patients recognize disease, there are awareness raising pages, including a self-test for COPD symptoms. The, “Could it be COPD?” self-test by GOLD, Global Initiative for COPD prompts individuals who are at risk to seek medical help when the disease is at an early stage.  As COPD progresses, both patients and carers often require extra support to deal with the emotional and physical strain of the disease. To address this, there is important information on how to recognize a COPD exacerbation, including steps to reduce the risks of having an exacerbation.

The good news for patients is that there is a range of disease management options available to them.

COPD is a multi-component disease characterized by airway inflammation, airway structural changes and muco-ciliary dysfunction all leading to airflow limitation and a systemic component 5, 6

EFA is the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients' Association, an alliance of 41 organisations in 23 different countries across Europe. EFA strives to improve the health and quality of life of people with Allergy, Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease to serve the needs and safeguard the rights of these patients and their families across Europe.

– ENDS –

Notes to Editor:                   

To access the EFA COPD website visit


1.  World Health Report 1998. Life in the 21st Century: A vision for all. World Health Organisation, Geneva, 1998

2. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Morbidity and mortality: chartbook on cardiovascular, lung and blood diseases. Bethesda, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health; 1998. accessed 15 April 2003)

3. Vermeire P. The burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Respir Med 2002: 96(Suppl C): S3-S10

4. Murray CJL, Lopez AD, Mathers CD, Stein C. The global burden of disease 2000 project: aims, methods and data sources. Global Programme on Evidence for Health Policy Discussion Paper No.36. World Health Organization, Nov 2001

5. National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Global initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease. Global strategy for the diagnosis, management and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. NHLBI/WHO Workshop Report. NHBLI/WHO (2001).

6. Agusti AGN, Noguera A, Sauleda J, Sala E, Pons J, Busquets X. Systemic effects of chronic pulmonary disease. Eur Respir J 2003; 21: 347–360.