Rosemary Conley said that doctors told her she wouldn’t make it past the age of 10.



This diet expert opens up about her revolutionary treatment that has given her a new lease on life in her 70s. She had suffered from severe asthma since childhood.

As one of the country’s best-known fitness gurus, dieting queen Rosemary Conley has helped thousands of people to shed the pounds and shape up.

But despite teaching countless exercise classes and regularly hitting the gym herself, surprisingly, Rosemary has suffered from severe asthma for most of her life and says she’s lucky to still be alive.

“It is something I’ve always known could kill me, so I take it very seriously,”Rosemary, 75 years old, was diagnosed with asthma at the age of two. “

My lungs were so under-developed that the doctors told my parents I probably wouldn’t survive beyond the age of 10.”

Her breathing was so poor that when she was eight, she spent three months being observed in a children’s hospital, only to be discharged with a liquid inhaler that had to last her an entire month.

“Each puff of medicine was precious,”Rosemary, who is from Leicestershire, remembers. “I spent most of my childhood looking on from the sidelines as there was so much I couldn’t do.”

Luckily for Rosemary, as her lungs developed and medicine advanced, her asthma became less of an issue, but she insists that the reason she hasn’t been more ill is because she monitors her condition regularly and goes for regular check-ups.

“The last time I had a serious asthma attack was in my 20s. I was watching a cricket match on a freshly mowed lawn and something about that grass really aggravated my lungs. I can still remember the terror of trying to breathe.”

Rosemary has been meticulous about her condition since. She now takes four inhalers per day. Some of these help prevent attacks, others relieve symptoms.

Severe asthma is the most severe and potentially fatal form of asthma. It affects around 200,000 people in Britain. A person with severe asthma cannot manage their symptoms with high doses medication.

“We don’t understand why some people get asthma and why some people’s asthma becomes more severe and is more difficult to treat. We will keep pushing for more research into this area,”Dr Andy Whittamore is the clinical lead at Asthma + Lung UK.

Rosemary was also diagnosed four years ago with chronic lung disease bronchiectasis. This condition causes the airways and lungs to become damaged and can lead to excessive mucus, uncontrollable breathing, fatigue, and frequent chest infections.

Rosemary, who was previously treated for severe asthma, has been given a new lease on life by biologics. This drug is a type of drug that can be used to treat severe cases of the disease. The research was funded by Asthma + Lung UK.

She has received the medication for two months now, and the results are amazing. “My breathing is so much better now, and surprisingly, it has really reduced my bronchiectasis symptoms too, which I wasn’t expecting,”She says.

Rosemary doesn’t have to take as many of the steroid pills as she was originally prescribed. While steroids can be a lifesaver to people suffering from asthma, there are many side effects. Rosemary suffered from a racing heart, thin skin, and severe insomnia.

“These biologics drugs are like a laser-guided missile compared to steroids that could be likened to cluster bombs as they come with so many unwanted side effects,”Ian Pavord, Professor of Respiratory medicine at the University of Oxford.

“The problem is that only a fifth of the people who are eligible for these drugs are accessing them as so many people with severe asthma don’t realise that biologics exist.”

“Biologic treatments used for asthma are also known as monoclonal antibodies. These are specialist treatments using antibodies which can target specific cells or chemicals in the body,” explains Dr Whittamore.

“Monoclonal antibodies can treat some types of severe asthma by helping to stop processes that cause lung inflammation. This is inflammation that may be caused by allergies or by high levels of a cell in the body called an eosinophil.”

Dr Whittamore says that although medication is an important part of managing asthma and lung conditions, the best thing is to follow prescribed instructions. However, exercise is also important.

“Being more active helps you to use more of your lungs and to use them more efficiently – which can help to reduce chest symptoms,”He says.

“It is also good for general fitness, can help with weight control and boost mental health – all of which can have a positive impact on asthma and other lung conditions.”

Clearly, exercise has never been a trigger for Rosemary’s asthma. Rosemary believes that her daily exercise routine of two classes, three gym sessions and a ballet class, as well as a daily walk, has helped her to stay active.

“Whenever my consultant gives me a peak flow test [a measurement of how quickly air can be exhaled from the lungs] he is always amazed that I am able to go to the gym and spent so many years ice skating,”She says.

“He has been blunt about the fact that if it wasn’t for my fitness levels and the proactive way in which I look after my lungs, that I probably wouldn’t still be here.

“It’s something I won’t ever let myself forget.”

  • Rosemary is an ambassador of Asthma + Lung UK 222 5800, the UK’s leading charity for people suffering from a lung condition. The UK has the highest number of people who die each year from asthma and lung conditions than any other Western European country. Deaths have also doubled over the last 20-years. The charity calls on the Government to invest in research and development for new treatments.

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