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Breathing Space Newsletter – Winter 2018

 


Passage of Bill 71

Lung Health Act

Lung disease affects millions of Ontarians not just the 2.4 million people who live with a chronic respiratory illness, but also the millions more who love and care for them. For the past 10 years, The Lung Association and its partners have been calling on the Government of Ontario to establish a Lung Health Action Plan in order to properly and effectively address lung disease in the province. Of the four chronic diseases responsible for 79 per cent of deaths (cancers, cardiovascular diseases, lung disease and diabetes) lung disease has been the only one without a dedicated province-wide strategy until now.

Inspired by what this action plan represents, the three political parties of the Ontario Legislature came together in a demonstration of true non-partisanship and commitment to the health of Ontarians, and reached an agreement to pass Bill 71, Lung Health Act, in the final days of the fall 2017 legislative session.

On Tuesday, December 12th in the Ontario Legislature, Bill 71 was passed by unanimous consent, and on Thursday, December 14th the Bill received Royal Assent from the Lieutenant Governor, officially enacting into law The Ontario Lung Health Advisory Council.

This group will be dedicated to providing provincially-based advice and recommendations on lung health to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to make improvements in lung health awareness, diagnosis, treatment and care. Its goal will be to work towards the development and implementation of an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan that will provide a coordinated approach to prevent lung disease, improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare spending.

Your Lungs, Your Life, a report produced by The Lung Association, estimated that lung disease cost taxpayers approximately $4 Billion in 2011. By 2015 that estimate grew to more than $27 billion in direct and indirect healthcare costs. Perhaps what is most troubling is that that cost is expected to balloon to more than $76 billion by 2021, which represents an astonishing estimated 1800 per cent increase in cost over a 10 year period.

While the Lung Health Act itself is now confirmed, much work still remains. Over the coming months, we will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on the development of the Advisory Council and its structure, and look forward to sharing more information with you as it becomes available.

Our collective breathing future has just became much brighter. Thank you to the members of the Lung Health Caucus, members of our professional societies, our donors, partners, volunteers and staff for all of your support in getting us to where we are today. With you by our side, we are helping even more Ontarians breathe.

Bring Home the Breath of Spring

Breath of Spring

For the past 19 years, The Lung Association has been running its Tulip Campaign with resounding success thanks to the incredible efforts of volunteers across the province. Read more

Tips for a Famous New Year’s Resolution

Quitting Smoking

As holiday feasts and celebrations are now behind us, the focus shifts to the New Year and working our way through a laundry list of resolutions of how we will lead healthier lifestyles. Read more

Advocacy Wins for the Lung Association

Protect your breathing

The Lung Association has been working with the Ontario government for the past several years on a number of advocacy issues relating to the lung health of all Ontarians. We are extremely pleased that some of the most important ones have finally become a reality. Read more

The Air We Breathe

Tips to improve indoor air

For the three million Canadians who have asthma, breathing polluted indoor air can lead to serious health problems and play a significant role in triggering asthma symptoms. Read more

Pneumonia

Can you lower your risk with a vaccine?

Pneumococcal pneumonia, the most common type of bacterial pneumonia, can affect anyone. Read more

News and Events

Browse The Lung Association – Ontario’s upcoming news and events. Read more

Your Dollars, Your Impact

Assessing lung function in older Canadians

Chris Verschoor, M.Sc, Ph.D. and his team from McMaster University undertake a thorough investigation into the factors that influence lung function in older Canadian adults. Read more



Breath of Spring

Bring Home the Breath of Spring

For the past 19 years, The Lung Association has been running its Tulip Campaign with resounding success thanks to the incredible efforts of volunteers across the province. This year’s campaign, renamed Breath of Spring, will continue to sell tulips, our signature flower, which is low fragrance and non-allergenic – and now we’re also selling crispy wave ferns, which have been shown to remove harmful particles from the air. Both are perfect gifts for family and friends, or a bright addition to your desk – and a fresh way to support the work of The Lung Association!

Get involved by ordering your tulips or crispy wave ferns today or volunteering as a Workplace Champion.

The money raised through the campaign will:

  • Fund research that could lead to the next breathing breakthrough finding cures to diseases that will deliver a future of better breathing for all.
  • Give people with lung disease and their families vital information, support and resources.
  • Promote healthy breathing by fighting for policies that protect our air, and educating Canadians about what they can do to promote their own lung health.

“We have supported this worthwhile initiative in our office for many years now. Who does not know someone who has been affected in one way or another by lung disease? There is also the added bonus of our staff’s excitement when the tulips arrive on March 2. People rush to the front desk to select their favourite colours of tulips. The flowers brighten everyone’s day and there is a real aura of anticipation.”
– Marie, Ottawa Region

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Tips for a famous New Year’s Resolution

Quitting Smoking

As holiday feasts and celebrations are now behind us, the focus shifts to the New Year and working our way through a laundry list of resolutions of how we will lead healthier lifestyles. Some of us may have joined a gym and sweated through a few workouts. Others may have added more greens to their diet. Or, maybe the change has been as simple as taking a moment out of your hectic schedule just to breathe.

That still leaves the one daunting resolution that plagues many each year – quitting smoking. Quitting is the best solution for your lung health and those around you because tobacco use increases the risk of lung cancer, it leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and contributes to the early deaths of more than 37,000 Canadians every year. Second-hand smoke is just as harmful and there’s mounting evidence that third-hand smoke – the fumes trapped in furniture, carpet and fabric – is dangerous.

So, if quitting is part of your plan for 2018, here are 5 tips to help you:

  1. Scientific studies show that physical activity can help reduce cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms and can also assist in curbing possible post-quitting weight gain.
  2. Drink water, with crushed ice if possible, to help flush the nicotine and other chemicals out of your system faster. This also satisfies the oral craving for a while. Try using a straw with the same diameter as a cigarette.
  3. The first few days after you quit, spend as much free time as possible in places where smoking is prohibited, e.g., libraries, museums, theatres, department stores, churches, smoke free restaurants, etc.
  4. Do things to maintain a clean mouth taste, such as brushing your teeth frequently and using mouth wash.
  5. List all the reasons why you want to quit. Every night before you go to bed, repeat one of the reasons ten times.

Whether you’re ready to quit now or quit later, The Lung Association has free resources to help including certified respiratory educators (CREs) who provide smoking cessation counselling. They are available through our Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or through email at info@lungontarioca.

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Advocacy Wins for The Lung Association

Protect your Breathing

The Lung Association has been working with the Ontario government for the past several years on a number of advocacy issues relating to the lung health of all Ontarians. We are extremely pleased that some of the most important ones have finally become a reality.

OHIP+

With the implementation of the new OHIP+ program that began January 1, 2018, now, more than four million children and youth under the age of 25 across Ontario have access to over 4,400 medicines, completely free of charge.

Included in the publicly funded prescriptions are asthma inhalers, as well as one valved holding chamber per year. This is an important step because many children require asthma medications to keep their asthma under control.

It is also recommended that a child with asthma use their inhaler with a chamber, as this device ensures that the medicine actually reaches the child’s lungs, which is crucial to help control and treat asthma. Otherwise, children risk having most of their medication end up on their face, tongue or back of their throat where it does not help. For some families, purchasing these chambers was too cost prohibitive in the past, but that has now changed.

Action Plan for Seniors

The Lung Association applauds the Government of Ontario’s recent announcement of developing Aging with Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors aimed at giving one of our most vulnerable populations more choices about their care – including healthcare.

One component of this plan, something The Lung Association has been advocating for, is the introduction of a free annual high-dose influenza vaccine, which will start in the 2018-19 flu season as part of the Ontario Universal Influenza Immunization Program.

Providing a high-dose flu vaccination that has four times the usual dose is important for individuals ages 65 and older because their immune system response to the standard flu vaccine is not as strong as it is in younger people, which makes them more susceptible to the virus – even though they may feel healthy otherwise.

Having free access to this high-dose vaccination will better protect them from the potentially debilitating effects of this viral infection.

It is estimated that there are an average of approximately 4,750 influenza-associated hospitalizations and 1,365 influenza-associated deaths each year in Ontario. The highest mortality rates typically occurring among adults 65 years of age and older.

This move is a step in the right direction in creating more access to a choice of healthcare options for those who need it most and to better protect the breathing of seniors in Ontario.

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The Air We Breathe

Tips to improve indoor air

When we think of air pollution, our thoughts usually turn to vehicles and factories polluting the outdoor air. However, people in industrialized nations such as Canada spend the vast majority of their time indoors, and indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. For the three million Canadians who have asthma, breathing polluted indoor air can lead to serious health problems and play a significant role in triggering asthma symptoms.

Here are some steps you can take to improve the indoor air you breathe:

Smoke

Smoke from cigarettes, cannabis, fireplaces and wood stoves can damage your lungs. Second-hand smoke can stay in a home long after a cigarette has been put out. Keep your home smoke-free. Do not allow anyone to smoke inside your home or car at any time.

Household products

Many household products contain chemicals that can affect your health. Exposure through breathing, skin contact, or swallowing can cause dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, and irritation of the eyes, skin and lungs. Long-term exposure can cause allergies and even cancer.

Use less toxic options, including baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. When using cleaning products, air out your home by opening windows and using venting fans. Avoid the use of air fresheners and other products that put scents and other pollutants into the air.

Find out more about household products at Your Healthy Home.

Allergens

Allergens affect people who are allergic to them. Most people who have asthma also have allergies that can trigger their asthma symptoms.

Find out more about the more common allergic asthma triggers and what you can do about them:

Radon

Radon is an invisible gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Radon enters homes through openings in floors, walls and windows and in some homes it can build up to high levels. High levels of radon increases your risk of getting lung cancer. If you smoke and have high radon levels in your home, your risk of lung cancer is even higher.

The only way to find out if you have high radon levels is to test your home. You can buy a radon test kit from hardware stores or at The Lung Association – Ontario. To find out more about radon or to order a test kit, visit lungontario.ca/radon

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Pneumonia

Can you lower your risk with a vaccine?

With holiday shopping, late-night celebrations and family commitments behind us now, the potential lack of sleep and added stress could have played a role in weakening your immune system, putting you at greater risk of colds and other illnesses, like pneumonia.

Pneumococcal pneumonia, the most common type of bacterial pneumonia, can affect anyone, but there are many people who are at a higher risk of contracting it. This usually happens when the body is already weakened, whether by illness, old age, poor nutrition or compromised immunity. In these cases, the bacteria that cause this type of pneumonia can more easily enter your lungs.

The risk of developing pneumococcal pneumonia increases if you smoke, have recently had surgery, are debilitated, are younger than five or 65 and older, are a resident of a nursing home or other chronic care facility or a patient in a hospital. A weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS, taking corticosteroid pills, having an organ transplant or being treated for cancer can also put you at greater risk. Having a chronic lung disease like asthma, COPD, or other chronic diseases like diabetes are influencing factors.

Complications from pneumococcal pneumonia include fever and difficulty breathing. Older adults may also experience confusion or low alertness. It kills 1,500 Canadian adults each year, yet it is a vaccine-preventable disease.

That’s why everyone, especially those considered high-risk, should get vaccinated. For those who are 65 and older, two shots are better than one in preventing pneumococcal pneumonia. For the best protection, adults should speak to their healthcare provider about getting both vaccines.

Learn more at lungontario.ca/vaccines.

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News and Events

Breathe! Gala  |  January 25, 2018

Thank you to everyone who came out and supported our annual Breathe! Gala on January 25. It was an evening full of celebration and inspiration, while helping us continue to create breathing breakthroughs. Special thank you to our lead sponsors- AstraZeneca, ProResp Inc., David Laprise/RBC, Boehringer Ingelheim, TEVA, GSK, Thistle Printing Ltd.

Better Breathing Conference |  January 25-27, 2018

Thank you to all the respiratory health professionals who attended and spoke at our Better Breathing Conference from January 25-27. These hree days that gave delegates the opportunity to refresh their knowledge, learn about new innovations and the latest in respiratory health, but also to network with other healthcare professionals from various disciplines and regions across Ontario.

SteelTown Climb  |  February 3, 2018  (Hamilton)

Our Step Up & Breathe events are one of The Lung Association’s signature fundraising initiatives. Challenge yourself to climb Stelco Tower – all 26 storeys of it – while making a real difference in the lives of those affected by lung disease.

Register here.

Breath of Spring  |  February 26- March 9, 2018

For the past 19 years, The Lung Association has been running its Tulip Campaign with resounding success thanks to the incredible efforts of volunteers across the province. This year’s campaign, renamed Breath of Spring, will continue to sell tulips, our signature flower – which is low fragrance and non-allergenic – and now we’re also selling crispy wave ferns, which have been shown to remove harmful particles from the air. Both are perfect gifts for family and friends, or a fresh addition to your desk – and a wonderful way to support the work of The Lung Association!

Get involved by ordering your tulips or crispy wave ferns today or volunteering.

Stratford Garden Festival  |  March 1 to 4 , 2018 

Launch the spring season and support the Ontario Lung Association by attending the annual Stratford Garden Festival. Enjoy and learn from our special speakers and shop the market to get your garden ready.

Learn more here.

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Your Dollars, Your Impact

Assessing lung function in older Canadians

Chris Verschoor, M.Sc, Ph.D. and his team from McMaster University aim to use information from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) to undertake a thorough investigation of the lifestyle, health, disease and psychosocial factors that influence lung function in older Canadian adults, specifically those who do not have any obvious cause of lung health loss.

The goal is to identify the common factors related to lung function that affect the majority of older Canadians, as well as reveal the factors most important for specific subgroups. This will greatly benefit not only the lung health of Canadians as they age, but also their ability to maintain overall health and well-being into their golden years.

“As a new investigator, the grant-in-aid funding from The Lung Association – Ontario will be a major catalyst for my career. Not only will it help me grow my research team, it will be critical in the development of my research program, allowing me to perform foundational work regarding the factors that shape lung health as we age.”

The full list of Grant-in-Aid funded projects is available here. Congratulations to all who were successful in this highly competitive process.

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