THE assembly member for Clwyd West joined the British Lung Foundation to raise awareness of a disease that affects millions of people in the UK.

AM Darren Millar visited the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Lung Disease (COPD) Day event at the Pierhead, Cardiff Bay on Wednesday, November 20. The annual event, which started in 2002, discusses care programmes for patients suffering from the progressive condition in which narrowed airways obstruct the movement of air out of the lungs.

There is currently no cure for the COPD, which affects three million people - however two million are undiagnosed, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The awareness event, which launched in 2002 and is now celebrated in more than 50 countries, also highlights future improvements in COPD care and featured representatives from support services who met current patients, the wider public and political figures.

Mr Millar said: “I am glad to report that my lungs received a clean bill of health at the event, but unfortunately not everyone is so fortunate.

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, describes a group of lung conditions that make it difficult to empty air out of the lungs because the airways have become narrowed. It's a progressive condition, which means there is currently no cure and everyday tasks can become a challenge.

“Symptoms include getting short of breath easily when you do everyday things such as going for a walk or doing housework; having a cough that lasts a long time; wheezing in cold weather, and producing more sputum or phlegm than usual. You might get these symptoms all the time, or they might appear or get worse when you have an infection or breathe in smoke or fumes.

“If you have COPD that has a severe impact on your breathing, you can lose your appetite, lose weight and find that your ankles swell.

Mr Millar urged anyone who might be suffering from any of the symptoms to visit their GP.

For further information on COPD visit the British Lung Foundation website.