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Saskatoon , August 23, 2005 “ Thanks to a Lung Association partnership including health regions, industry and the medical school, new programs will be implemented to help the 32,000 Saskatchewan residents living with COPD.  œOur partners in this new project are the Saskatoon Health Region, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, VitalAire and the Department of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.  announced Brian Graham, President and CEO of the Lung Association. Funding for the project will exceed one-half million dollars.

COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a silent and progressive lung disease that will be one of the main causes of disability and the third leading cause of death in the next 10 to 15 years.  COPD refers to a group of diseases that are characterized by airflow limitation in the airways of the lungs such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  COPD usually remains undetected until people experience shortness of breath at rest or with mild exercise.  It slowly takes people's breath away and eventually restricts the ability to perform normal daily activities. Currently it is the second leading cause of hospitalization for Saskatchewan seniors. COPD killed more women last year than breast cancer.

Canadian research has proven that COPD rehabilitation programs will improve health, reduce costs of health care through reduced hospitalizations and emergency room visits said Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, holder of the Lung Association COPD professorship at the Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan and Medical Director, Chronic Disease Management, Saskatoon Health Region. The Lung Association recently funded a study on the value of COPD rehabilitation in Saskatoon.

Dr. Marciniuk is one of the principle authors of the 2004 Canadian Guidelines for the Management of COPD which call for COPD rehabilitation as a standard of treatment. Saskatchewan has very limited access to COPD rehabilitation programs but we are optimistic that this initiative will make a significant difference to our patients with COPD, said Dr. Marciniuk.

The Saskatoon Health Region is excited about this opportunity to improve patient care, said Donna Bleakney, General Manager, General Medicine and Chronic Disease Management, Saskatoon Health Region. This project will serve as a great model for management of chronic diseases in general. It will also develop a satellite version of COPD rehabilitation that is suitable for smaller centres around the province.


I was fortunate to be a participant in the Lung Association pilot project for COPD rehabilitation, said Barb Charbonneau of Saskatoon, a COPD patient. The pulmonary rehab program had a huge impact on my life. Not only did I receive the support from the health professionals but I was able to increase the length of time I exercised from 21 minutes to 45 minutes “ a major milestone for a person with COPD and using oxygen! added Ms. Charbonneau.

The new Canadian COPD Guidelines identify patient education as an integral part of COPD care added Dr. Marciniuk. For this reason, I am especially pleased that the Lung Association is launching COPDTrec - a new COPD Training and Educator Course for health care professionals treating COPD patients and their families.

The Lung Association support programs include Breathworks “ a help line for COPD patients and their families to obtain up-to-date, helpful information and advice from trained COPD educators. Additionally, the launching of COPDTrec is expected to train over 100 health care professionals in the province to educate COPD patients.

The Lung Association has been active in the development of COPD programs for over 30 years. Research initiatives and professorships have made it possible for researchers such as Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, at the University of Saskatchewan and Dr. G. Sridhar at the Regina General Hospital to focus on the ongoing development of respiratory health programs. The Lung Association was a leader in establishing a home oxygen program for COPD patients in the 1980s.

The Lung Association of Saskatchewan is committed to improving the lung health of the residents of Saskatchewan. The Lung Association is a member of the Canadian Lung Association, which has been working for lung health since 1900. As a non-profit, non-governmental organization, we rely on donations from the public to fund our activities.  You will find us on the front lines working with our partners in health care to provide optimal care and treatment of lung diseases such as COPD, asthma, sleep apnea, lung cancer, and pneumonia.  Please check our web site at www.sk.lung.cafor a comprehensive look at our areas of research, educational materials and resources, and programs.

For more information contact:

Jan Haffner, VP of Health Initiatives
Lung Association of Saskatchewan
1231 8th St E, Saskatoon, SK
tel: (306) 343-9511, 1-888-566-LUNG

Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, Professor
Division of Respiratory Medicine
General Medicine & Chronic Disease Management
Department of Medicine
University of Saskatchewan
tel:  (306) 966-8298, fax (306) 966-8694

Leanne Nyirfa
Cooperate Affairs and Communications
Saskatoon Health Region
Saskatoon , SK
tel (306) 655-3386, fax (306) 655-3394


When you can't breathe, nothing else matters.

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