Ayrshire NHS team get funding to tackle ‘invisible’ killer

Karen Bell, Head of Research and Development, Dr Anur Guhan, Respiratory Consultant, Professor John Lockhart (seated) and Gary Litherland, both from UWS.
Karen Bell, Head of Research and Development, Dr Anur Guhan, Respiratory Consultant, Professor John Lockhart (seated) and Gary Litherland, both from UWS.

NHS Ayrshire & Arran is delighted to be part of a research team which has been given a major funding boost to help tackle an invisible lung disease responsible for killing more than 6,500 people in Ayrshire in the last 10 years.

Funding of more than €7.7 million has been allocated by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme to create ‘BREATH’, a project to look into the causes, treatment and potential prevention of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

COPD is an incurable condition that affects the lungs. It is a combination of chronic bronchitis, chronic asthma and emphysema. It can cause breathlessness, coughing, wheezing and chest tightness as the airways become narrowed and the lungs lose elasticity. COPD significantly impairs quality and the enjoyment of life and has a high cost to health services and the wider economy. In 2011, the annual economic burden of COPD across the EU was estimated at approximately €141.4 billion.

COPD is the third biggest killer in Scotland, with numbers continuing to rise.

The condition is very prevalent locally, with figures showing approximately three adults out of every 100 in Ayrshire are affected. Around 30 per cent (three out of every 10) of emergency hospital admissions in NHS Ayrshire & Arran is due to COPD. The BREATH project team also includes University of the West of Scotland (UWS), NHS Dumfries and Galloway and a cross-border partnership including the Dundalk Institute of Technology in the Republic of Ireland and Queen’s University, Belfast.

Anur Guhan, Respiratory Consultant for NHS Ayrshire & Arran, said: “COPD is often overlooked when compared to better known diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. So, it is really important that more will now be done to identify better treatment and possible preventions. It is also vital that the public become more aware of the condition and the BREATH project will help to do this.”

The project partners will be able to share information and produce data that can help improve the quality of life for people who are living with COPD.