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Supporting people towards better lung health in 2024


The start of a new year is an ideal time to support people to consider small ways to begin working towards a healthy lifestyle. Grand gestures are unlikely to be sustainable long term but taking small steps towards a longer term goal can help to improve or maintain their lung health and encourage patients to take further steps along the road.

Here are our top five primary care resolutions for 2024 to encourage and support patients to improve or protect their lung health.

1. Be an advocate for smoking cessation

Being the trigger that initiates a smoking cessation attempt should always be at the top of your list of actions to improve lung health. Get yourself up to speed with the Very Brief Advice (VBA) approach to help you start the conversation. While your first conversation might not be the one to prompt a quit attempt, the next one might be. The PCRS Tobacco Dependency Pragmatic Guide provides a range of useful information and resources or download our flier for quick tips. For people wanting to start treatment check the most up to date PCRS position for treating tobacco dependency so together you can select the right options for them.

2. Help people find ways to get more fresh air

Discuss ways to get out into the fresh air at least once a day. This can be anything from 10 minutes in front of an open window while practising breathing control or in the garden to a brisk walk to the shop and back once a day. Make sure you know where the open spaces are in your local area and encourage people to make use of them.

3. Encourage people to take measures to improve indoor air quality

This could include regularly airing out rooms or reducing the use of scented candles or air fresheners. Airing our bedrooms and bedding is something our grandparents would have done without a second thought. Turning down the bed, opening the window and closing the door for an hour every morning could be part of a new morning routine. The Asthma and Lung UK guide to improving air quality in the home provides lots of useful tips and suggestions for patients. Poor indoor air quality is also associated with poverty. See the new PCRS video resource on poverty and poor housing to understand why this happens and what can be done.

4. Ensure patients with chronic lung conditions are taking their medications as prescribed

Use the first consultation in 2024 to make sure your patients understand the medications they are taking and the importance of taking them as prescribed. Asking patients to tell you the medications they take and what they are for can be a useful way to help to correct any misunderstandings. Check out our inhaler technique training video by PCRS member and pharmacist Darush Attar-Zadeh, to help provide guidance to patients using inhalers.

5. Help people find ways to sit less and move more

Deconditioning is a concern for patients with chronic lung conditions who may not be able to distinguish appropriate shortness of breath due to exercise from breathlessness due to their underlying condition. The new year is an opportunity to discuss the importance of keeping lungs working and finding a level of exercise that suits them. This might be anything from armchair exercises to working towards a walking marathon. Encourage eligible patients to engage with pulmonary rehabilitation. See our helpful guide for communicating the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation to patients.

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