Merthyr Tydfil, Wrexham and Denbighshire are areas where you are most at risk of lung conditions

A charity which helps people with lung conditions is urging the Welsh Government to tackle the problem. Credit: PA

People in Merthyr Tydfil, Wrexham and Denbighshire are among the most likely to be admitted to hospital in an emergency and die from a lung condition in the Wales.

That is according to Asthma + Lung UK Cymru, which is now urging the Welsh Government to invest money in earlier diagnosis and tackle "unacceptably high rates" of air pollution and smoking.

It has described the current levels of care for people with lung conditions as patchy and says it is concerned that vital diagnostic testing for lung conditions, suspended during the pandemic, are not fully back up and running in some areas.

Lung conditions in the UK are the third biggest killer but only receive 2% of public investment into research.

The charity also says more money is needed to fund research into lung conditions to save millions of lives.

Areas of Wales which have the lowest rate of emergency admissions to hospital and deaths for lung conditions include, Ceredigion, Monmouthshire and Powys.

However 8 of 10 places with the highest hospital admissions and deaths are in South Wales.

The ten worst places for hospital admissions and deaths for lung conditions in Wales:

1. Merthyr Tydfil

2. Wrexham

3. Denbighshire

4. Caerphilly

5. Rhondda Cynon Taf

6. Blaenau Gwent

7. Bridgend

8. Cardiff

9. Neath Port Talbot

10. Torfaen

Asthma + Lung UK Cymru says most of the places where people experience poor lung health are also areas where there are higher levels of deprivation.

Jo, 47, has severe asthma and moved to Merthyr 10 years ago. She says since moving there her breathing has become considerably worse.

"At one time I was being admitted to hospital up to 8 times a year. Having an asthma attack feels like you're drowning, the more air you try and get into your lungs, the more air goes out."

"In 2013, I tragically lost my husband to a brain tumour and moved to Merthyr for a fresh start. That's when I started to really worry about my breathing.

"It really hit home, my children were just six and 10 at the time, it was just me and them. I worried what would happen to them if I was rushed to hospital or even worse - a fatal asthma attack? I was determined my children wouldn't lose both of us.

"My asthma attacks can come on suddenly, without much warning. One minute you're fine, the next, fighting for breath... As soon as my children were old enough to speak, I taught them how to dial 999 and call for an ambulance. They are older now and I'm so lucky to have them. As soon as they hear my nebuliser, a machine which helps me to breathe, they run upstairs to check if I'm ok.

"Both my grandmothers who are from the Valleys died of lung conditions. One from an asthma attack and the other from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

"I often wonder why is it so bad here? What can be done to help children grow up healthy and not breathe the air we did?

"I now want to help raise awareness about how serious asthma is, to prevent other families going through what we have."

The ten places in Wales with lowest hospital admission and deaths for lung conditions:

1. Ceredigion

2. Monmouthshire

3. Powys

4. Pembrokeshire

5. Carmarthenshire

6. Swansea

7. Isle of Anglesey

8. Flintshire

9. Gwynedd

10. Vale of Glamorgan

Joseph Carter from Asthma + Lung UK Cymru, says it is appalling that people across Wales are struggling to breathe and are being rushed to hospital and dying avoidably from lung conditions.

"We know that people in more deprived areas are more likely to have worse lung health, often with no choice but to live in poorer quality housing, more polluted areas with higher smoking rates. We need to tackle the lung health lottery head on.

"This year the Welsh Government published its Quality Statement for Respiratory Disease, but without funding, it remains uncertain how we are going to tackle the poor respiratory health in Wales head on.

"To do better, the Welsh Government must address stark inequality in lung health and ensure the NHS has the resources to support its dedicated staff. People at risk of or living with lung conditions can't simply move to improve their lung health, it is health inequality we must battle.

"The Welsh Government must ensure people living with a lung condition get an early diagnosis, have help quitting smoking, can breathe good quality air and receive the right support and treatment to manage their lung condition well."

The Climate Change Minister says new powers will help the Welsh Government make a cleaner Wales.

The Climate Change Minister Julie James has said new powers to tackle air and noise pollution will lead to a cleaner, healthier and greener Wales.

The Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) Bill is aiming to give the Welsh Government greater ability to introduce new long-term targets for air quality.

The new bill proposes the Welsh Government should have powers including the ability to create low-emission zones on some major roads.

Parts of the M4 near Newport and the A470 at Pontypridd have been considered as potential clean air zones if the lower 50mph speed limits fail to reduce emissions.

Julie James said: "By introducing this Bill, our ambition is to further improve air quality and soundscapes by bringing forward new measures to reduce the impacts of air and noise pollution on human health, biodiversity and the natural environment."

"The scale and scope of the Bill reflects our commitment to improving the quality of our air environment at a Wales-wide level, at a local and regional level and throughout society."

In response to the road charging aspect of the Bill, the Welsh Conservatives say: "People are already struggling with the cost of living and this is the last thing they need right now."

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