Online breath test aims to diagnose lung problems earlier and reduce workload

A campaign encouraging patients to take an online breath test could help millions of patients with lung problems get diagnosed earlier, improving their health and cutting into GP workload, experts have said.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) launched the Listen to your lungs campaign to help find the ‘missing millions’ of people living with undiagnosed lung disease.

It comes after a report found that one person dies from lung disease every five minutes. Prevention, early diagnosis and improved awareness of lung conditions could help improve this statistic, the charity said.

The campaign encourages people not to ignore breathless and to take a simple online test to see if they might need a GP.

GP appointment

This asks 10 questions based around the Medical Research Council breathlessness scale. Depending on their results, the test could advise patients to lose weight, give up smoking or – in certain cases – to book an appointment with their GP.

It also aims to reassure patients who fall into the worried-well category, reassuring them they do not have a problem and cutting their need to make a GP appointment if the test highlights no concern.

Experts said the campaign would help cut GP workload in the long run by slashing appointments and helping patients take control of their lung conditions at an earlier stage.

‘If someone is limited by breathlessness on a daily basis or doing daily activities then we would expect the test to recommend they see their GP,’ said respiratory consultant Dr Irem Patel.


‘Patients take certain symptoms more seriously than others. Breathlessness can creep up gradually and people often put it down to other things like ageing or smoking.

‘This campaign is about raising awareness on breathlessness and its underlying conditions. Lung conditions that cause breathlessness often get misdiagnosed or diagnosed late.

‘We know that nationally we do very poorly in terms of early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and outcomes. We want to get the public engaged and healthcare professionals more engaged.

‘Our mortality has not shifted since 2010, whereas cardiovascular disease has halved – it just doesn’t have the prominence.’

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