Breathing easier for research

13 MAY 2010

An often misdiagnosed medical condition that affects one in ten Australians over the age of 40 is the focus of health tests being conducted at CSU on hundreds of volunteers.

An often misdiagnosed medical condition that affects one in ten Australians over the age of 40 is the focus of health tests being conducted at Charles Sturt University (CSU) on hundreds of volunteers.
 
As part of an international project, researchers at CSU in Orange and Wagga Wagga are testing 600 volunteers in the two regional NSW cities to identify the incidence and impact of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in rural communities in Australia.
 
“The disease, which is a common cause of breathlessness, is often misdiagnosed and misclassified,” said research leader Dr Bruce Graham from the School of Biomedical Sciences at CSU in Wagga Wagga.
 
“The condition is often incorrectly misdiagnosed as asthma. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two main types of COPD.
 
“The Australian Lung Foundation calculated in 2001 that COPD directly costs $300 million per annum - almost three times as much as lung cancer - and indirectly costs the national economy up to $900 million per annum,” said Dr Graham.
 
Dr Graham and fellow CSU researcher Ms Melanie Heine will be conducting tests on selected volunteers from 9am to 1pm on Friday 14 May at CSU in Wagga Wagga. The assessments include measuring height and weight, body fat and muscle, lung function before and after Ventolin use, skin allergy tests and a six minute walk test.
 
The results will be fed into what is known as the Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study. This study, focusing on lung function, began in 12 countries in 2007. The research has since been extended to over 150 locations in 25 countries.
 
“Charles Sturt University is keen to have an input into the BOLD study so rural Australia is represented in this international project alongside metropolitan centres,” said Dr Graham.
 
“We have modified the original BOLD study to get further information about our volunteers beyond the lung function tests. These additional tests will help give greater insight into the potential factors of respiratory disease for people in rural NSW.
 
The research is being conducted by a team of five in Wagga Wagga including lecturer Dr Brian Spurrell, Honours student Ms Jen Ledger and Graduate Assistant Ms Melanie Heine, all from the School of Biomedical Sciences and Mrs Robyn Paton, Respiratory Clinical Nurse Consultant from the Greater Southern Area Health Service. A team of four researchers at CSU in Orange is being led by Ms Pip Yabsley from the School of Biomedical Sciences.
 

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