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Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 17:27 UK
Emphysema: What is it and who is at risk?
By Tulip Mazumdar
Newsbeat health reporter

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse's dad has told Newsbeat the singer has been diagnosed with the potentially deadly lung disease Emphysema. Our health reporter explains what it is and how it could affect the 24-year-old.

What is Emphysema?

Emphysema is a lung condition that usually only affects people when they hit around 50. It's most often, but not always, triggered by years of heavy smoking. It can also be hereditary. It's very unusual for someone as young as Amy to suffer from the condition.

You get Emphysema when the tiny sacs in your lungs that take in oxygen are damaged. It means oxygen cannot be absorbed properly into the body which makes sufferers breathless and more open to chest infections. At worst, breathing can become impossible and the condition can be fatal.

Between 30-35,000 people die from so-called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease including Emphysema every year, according to the British Lung Foundation.

What's the outlook for Amy?

Amy's dad Mitch has told Newsbeat Amy is in the very early stages of the disease. He says the advice from her doctors is to get off the cigarettes immediately and stay off them.

Dr Keith Prowse from the British Lung Foundation said: "The outlook, if she were to continue smoking and be exposed to smoke, would be bad because it [the disease] would be likely to progress quite quickly."

He added: "If she's lucky and the changes are minimal then it shouldn't interfere with her singing."

What if she doesn't stop smoking?

It's not a good outlook if Amy keeps puffing away. Dr Prowse said over the next few years she would be likely to lose her ability to hold a note. Ten years down the line she may not be able to do simple things like climb the stairs because she'll get so breathless, and if she lets it get really bad, it could eventually kill her.

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