The Ontario Lung Association

The Ontario Lung Association

October 14, 2010 12:53 ET

Ontario Lung Association Says Simple Diagnostic Tool Not Being Used Enough to Detect Lung Disease

Ron Ellis helps promote spirometry to ensure respiratory diseases such as COPD are diagnosed early, making them easier to treat

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 14, 2010) -

Editor's Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.

The Ontario Lung Association is recognizing the first-ever World Spirometry Day by having Ron Ellis join them in encouraging Ontarians to get spirometry testing. Spirometry is considered the gold standard for diagnosing lung disease, yet many lung diseases remain undiagnosed in Ontario because the simple diagnostic test isn't being used enough.

"I remember a few hockey shifts that seemed a lot longer than 45 seconds because I was skating hard and needed my lungs working at full capacity," says Hockey legend Ron Ellis, a health enthusiast and non-smoker. "Not everyone is going to challenge their lung capacity in the same way a professional hockey player does but at the very least every Ontarian should be breathing well. If you're experiencing some problems breathing or are considered high risk for lung disease, spirometry is quick and easy, and able to help you maintain your health."

The Ontario Lung Association wants to get the word out about the importance of spirometry testing to help diagnose respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD. Spirometry is a simple, effective, non-invasive test that measures how much air you can hold in and move out of your lungs. Spirometry testing is performed by breathing in fully and then exhaling hard and fast into a machine, and, as a result, lung function can be measured(i). The earlier the test is performed, the earlier lung disease can be detected and treated

"Too many people have lung disease and do not know it, and they suffer needlessly. The goal of World Spirometry Day is to promote the early diagnosis of lung conditions, encourage people to get their lungs tested when appropriate, and to raise awareness about lung health," says Dr. Anthony D'Urzo, a family physician and director of the Primary Care Lung Clinic in North Toronto.

With 2010 being the international "Year of the Lung", there is increased importance being placed on the diagnosis of respiratory diseases through spirometry testing. "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the fourth leading cause of death in Canada(ii), yet there is not enough public awareness of the issue" says D'Urzo. "Proper diagnosis through spirometry is a major step in reducing the impact of respiratory diseases."

Examples of serious respiratory diseases are asthma, which affects 1.6 million Ontarians and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is still on the rise in Canada, and is growing in prevalence among younger Canadian baby boomers.(iii) Approximately 700,000 Ontarians are currently diagnosed with COPD.

The Ontario Lung Association is working toward a "Made in Ontario" Lung Health Strategy that will help improve the lung health of all Ontarians by making it a priority with the Government of Ontario. Most recently, the Ontario Lung Association asked the provincial government to consider implementing a smoking cessation system to help smokers quit for good. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease and death and is linked to 13,000 avoidable deaths each year.

Who should get a spirometry test?

Smokers and former smokers are at risk of developing COPD. People over 40 who smoke or used to smoke may already have COPD and are encouraged to take the Canadian lung health test:

  1. Do you cough regularly? Yes No
  2. Do you cough up phlegm regularly? Yes No
  3. Do even simple chores make you short of breath? Yes No
  4. Do you wheeze when you exert yourself or at night? Yes No
  5. Do you get frequent colds that persist longer than those of other people you know? Yes No

People who answer "Yes" to any one of the above questions should talk to their doctor about spirometry.

About Spirometry

Spirometry is the most efficient way to accurately diagnose respiratory diseases such as COPD. It is a simple breathing test that calculates the amount of air the patient's lungs can hold, and the rate at which the air can be expelled. Spirometry testing is performed by taking in a big breath, and then blowing as hard and long as you can into a machine that measures lung function. The earlier spirometry is performed, the earlier lung disease can be detected and treated, improving day-to-day life, and preventing the respiratory disease from worsening. Watch a video about spirometry at

About COPD

COPD is a serious respiratory disease that causes lung damage and obstructs, or blocks the airways. The main symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath, persistent cough and difficulty doing regular activities. COPD is sometimes referred to as emphysema or chronic bronchitis and is primarily caused by smoking; however, about 10-20 % of COPD cases are caused by other factors such as air pollution, lung infections and genetic disorder. It is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time.

About Ron Ellis

Ron Ellis is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey right winger who played 16 seasons in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Ellis became a full-time Leaf in 1964–65 and played 11 seasons to 1974–75, winning the Stanley Cup in 1967. He was also a member of Team Canada at the 1972 Summit Series. Ellis retired at age 30 during training camp in 1975, coming off the most productive season of his career with 61 points. As of 2006, Ellis is director of public affairs for the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

About Dr. Anthony D'Urzo

Dr. Anthony D'Urzo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto and has spent many years teaching in the department. He has been a volunteer member of The Lung Association since 1992. During the last 17 years the Toronto-based Primary Care Lung Clinic (PCLC) has developed a reputation as a leader in promoting lung health at the primary care level. Under the direction of Dr. D'Urzo, its commitment to early diagnosis and treatment of asthma and COPD, patient education, medical education and clinical research has earned the centre a reputation of excellence both locally and internationally.

About the Ontario Lung Association

The Lung Association is one of Canada's oldest voluntary, not-for-profit health promotion organizations. For more than 30 years, The Lung Association has been a leader in tobacco control. The Lung Association is concerned with the prevention and control of asthma, chronic lung disease caused by smoking and with air quality and its effect on lung health. The Ontario Lung Association was incorporated in 1945, and has community offices across the province.

(i) Diagnosis Canadian Lung Association website. Accessed on October 1. Available at

(ii) CTS 2007 Guidelines Web Site accessed October 8, 2010.

(iii) COPD and Smoking: Canada's Ticking Time Bomb. 2007 Leger Marketing research – consumer poll.

To view the photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link:

To view the video associated with this press release, please visit the following link:

Contact Information

  • Media enquiries
    Ontario Lung Association
    Karen Petcoff
    416-864-9911 ext. 283
    416-275-6844 (cell)
    Primary Care Lung Clinic
    Dr. Anthony D'Urzo