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UTHSCSA students offer free screening during Respiratory Care Week

Respiratory care students and faculty at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) will offer free spirometry screenings Oct. 20-26 as part of the American Association for Respiratory Care's Respiratory Care Week.

"Spirometry screenings are important for anyone over the age of 45 who smokes or used to smoke," says David Shelledy, Ph.D., chairman of respiratory therapy at UTHSCSA and president of the American Association of Respiratory Care. "We know that a large percentage of smokers can develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Spirometry screenings help identify those patients who have a reduction in lung volume, which could signal the beginning of lung disease."

During a spirometry screening, respiratory therapists measure how much air a patient can blow out in one breath. The ratio of air released in one second to the total amount of air released results in a number that is used to evaluate the patient's lungs. During one breath in one second, healthy non-smokers release 75 percent of all the air they can exhale. If a patient releases less than 75 percent, a lung problem may be suspected.

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in America, claiming more than 100,000 lives a year, yet hope is not lost for smokers. "Although damage to lungs cannot be undone, the lungs' rate of decline can return to a normal rate if a person stops smoking," Dr. Shelledy said. "So we want people to stop smoking."

To schedule a spirometry screening, call (210) 567-8850. Screenings will be held in the department of respiratory care at the Allied Health/Research Building on the Health Science Center's North Campus, 8403 Floyd Curl Drive.

Contact: Aileen Salinas