A few deep breaths through a small plastic tube hooked up to a computer might help keep smokers above ground longer.
If it sounds easy, that’s because it is, said the University of Calgary’s Dr. Bob Cowie, who is teaming up with researchers across the country.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the fourth leading cause of death in North America and a significant strain on the health-care system, said Cowie, who finds the disease especially disconcerting because it’s preventable and early detection makes it treatable.
“A deep breath in, blow out all you can a couple of times, this computer spits out numbers and either you have it or you don’t, it’s as simple as that,” Cowie said.
While some tobacco addicts are more susceptible to the effects of smoke, the entire smoking population is at risk and the problem with COPD, Cowie said, is that most symptoms don’t become obvious until a person is in their 60s and by that time, they’re already half in the grave.
“We think by doing the test, showing people they have this disease, that’s more incentive because quitting smoking is tough. Otherwise you say, well, everyone should quit smoking, and, well dream on, that’s Technicolor.”
Cowie thinks the test might also persuade family members of people with the disease to also quit smoking and live healthier.