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How Do Varna Citizens Breathe? Free Tests Provide the Answer Tomorrow

Varna and twelve other Bulgarian cities are taking part in the global initiative - World Spirometry Day on 23rd October. The Bulgarian Society of Lung Diseases, the European Respiratory Society and the European Lung Foundation are in the core of the campaign aimed at checking the lungs health in the country.
 Citizens and guests of Varna will be able to check the condition of their lungs by means of an easy and safe method from 10 am to 2 pm, at Kozirkata, in front of the Cathedral. Those of them who have certain pathological abnormalities will be directed to the respective centres for additional examinations. The data obtained during the campaign by BSLD will be processed, and the results will be summarized and sent to the European Respiratory Organization and the European Lung Foundation. Furthermore, they will be submitted to the Bulgarian media.
At today’s national press conference at MU-Varna, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Diana Petkova, president of the Bulgarian Society for Lung Diseases and head of a Department at the Clinic for Pulmonary Diseases at St. Marina University Hospital - Varna, outlined the objectives of the campaign: "The World Spirometry Day is an event initiated by pulmonologists around the world targeted at screening or early detection and prevention of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchial asthma. Furthermore, the campaign aims to alert the world community, the people around the world and last but not least the politicians on the importance of lung health. According to data from WHO, in 2020 COPD will be the third cause of death worldwide. There has been an increase of the death rate of COPD by more than 60% over the past 20 years. More than 65 million people worldwide suffer from this disease and more than 3 million die each year. Therefore, the aim of our campaign is to urge people to actively check their respiration, thus enabling us to perform active screening in order to diagnose the disease and promptly provide patients with professional help.
Prof. Ognyan Georgiev, a member of the Management Board of BSLD and head of the Department of Propedeutics of Internal Medicine at Aleksandrovska University Hospital expressed his concern: "The great issue, which remains pending over the years, is the Patient Network Dispensary which was completely reorganized. Plenty of medical establishments were closed, others were transferred to general hospitals which have quite different interests from those of patients and pulmonologists, subsequently a lot of units were also closed. The financial problems prevailed over common sense and now comes the time to bear the brunt of the reduction of the anti-tuberculosis network - basic working rules for TB treatment have been violated. So far, somehow we have managed to compensate all this by means of the global World Fund to Fight TB, but it has already been exhausted. Neither is the situation in the Patient Network Dispensary for nonspecific lung diseases - COPD and asthma any better."
Experts from Sofia, Plovdiv and Pleven joined the press conference by videoconferencing.
"Large scale smoking is the first among the main causes - 40% of the Bulgarians smoke actively," said Assoc. Prof. Yavor Ivanov, former president of the Bulgarian Society for Lung Diseases, and present vice-president of the Society, head of the Clinic for Pulmonary Diseases at University Hospital - Pleven. "The second important factor, which has been growing in a threatening way, is the poor quality of the air we breathe in the cities. There are several reasons for this: first and foremost, heating by means of coal and wood – it is becoming more widespread due to the high prices of central heating and probably now, as a result of the increase of the electricity price this trend will be even more widespread, second - road traffic. In this case the evidence is explicit on a global scale - on the effects on the development of COPD and asthma."
Assoc. Prof. Vladimir Hodzhev, member of MB of the Bulgarian Society of Lung Diseases, and national coordinator of the campaign dedicated to the World Spirometry Day in Bulgaria and head of the Clinic for Pulmonary Diseases at the University Hospital in Plovdiv, pointed out that since the very beginning in 2010, each year there has been an increase in the number of cities and doctors involved in the campaign and this has facilitated the examination of a larger number of people.
Assoc. Prof. Vanya Yurukova, a member of MB of BSLD, deputy executive director of St. Sofia Hospital for Pulmonary Diseases focused the attention on the difficulties encountered by the specialized pulmonary hospitals in the process of diagnostics and treatment.
"At Naval Hospital – Varna, part of the Military Medical Academy, both civilians and military personnel are being examined. In a significant part of the military personnel we have found the first symptoms of COPD", said Assoc. Prof. Yordan Petev, head of the Clinic of Internal Medicine at the medical establishment. "For the contingent of the vessel staff the condition of the lungs is more than important. Therefore, in cases of impaired respiration, a great part of these people have been taken out of that environment."
"In our country there are no official records of the number of people suffering from COPD. Roughly, we can say that they are about 150 000. But the real situation of patients with COPD is like an iceberg, of which we see only the top," said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Yordan Radkov, head of the Clinic for Pulmonary Diseases at St. Marina University Hospital - Varna. "The aim of this campaign is to enable us to look at the lower part of this iceberg."