Doctors across the Fylde Coast are urging residents with breathing problems and long-term lung conditions to stay healthy as winter bites.
In Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, around 9,000 people have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema which cause breathing difficulties.
Dr Tony Naughton, clinical chief officer at NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Symptoms can be much worse in the winter with cold air causing patients’ airways to become narrower, making it more difficult to breathe. However, there are things you can do to help stop your COPD becoming worse.
“Taking small steps will help make a difference to your condition.
“Respiratory illnesses, including COPD, affect thousands of people in Fylde and Wyre, and are the main cause of 28 per cent of all deaths. This is why supporting people with respiratory illness, and working to prevent it in the first place, are big priorities for the local NHS.”
Dr Naughton is advising people with lung conditions to check the weather before they go outside, and to protect their lungs by wearing a hood or scarf that covers the nose and mouth.
Medication should be taken between 10 and 30 minutes before going outside.
Patients should also keep warm with layers of clothing, keep their homes well ventilated and keep active to generate heat.
Dr Amanda Doyle, chief clinical officer at NHS Blackpool CCG, said: “In Blackpool we face some of the most complex health challenges in the country. More people die from respiratory disease in Blackpool than anywhere else in England. We have made it one of our priorities to prevent people from dying prematurely and also to provide services that will improve the health of those patients with respiratory disease or at high risk of developing it.
“We want to identify more patients in Blackpool with respiratory disease and, with an earlier diagnosis and treatment plan, be able to prevent them being admitted to hospital as an emergency.”