THE founder of new patient group for people with a serious lung condition has warned many are losing out on the benefits of supervised exercise, because of a lack of hospital facilities.
Michael McGloin (64) from Sligo is President of COPD Ireland, a new national charity set up to support people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
More than 440,000 people have the lung condition, which makes it difficult to breathe.
Mr McGloin was diagnosed around 15 years ago after smoking around 80 cigarettes a day.
"One of our aims is to extend the number of hospitals offering exercise rehab.
" It transformed my life," said Mr McGloin, who cannot breathe without an oxygen tank.
He began his exercise regime in St Michael's Hospital in Dun Laoghaire and now avails of the service in Sligo Hospital – but many others are not so lucky.
"It needs to be done in hospital under supervision. "People think they cannot possibly exercise but just 30 seconds on the bike and treadmill makes a big difference to lung function," he added.
"Having a national support group is essential.
"The death rate from COPD in Ireland is the highest in Europe – higher than Kazakhstan and Romania."
After he collapsed with a respiratory arrest, Mr McGloin had to give up his work in a garage where the fumes exacerbated the condition.
Free screening will be available from specialist nurses in different locations around Ireland from November 18 -22.
See www.copd.ie for more details.