WHAT IS IT?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. It includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and in some cases asthma.
COPD is a leading cause of death, illness, and disability in the United States. In 2000, 119,000 deaths, 726,000 hospitalizations, and 1.5 million hospital emergency departments visits were caused by COPD. An additional 8 million cases of hospital outpatient treatment or treatment by personal physicians were linked to COPD in 2000.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
In the United States, tobacco use is a key factor in the development and progression of COPD, but asthma, exposure to air pollutants in the home and workplace, genetic factors, and respiratory infections also play a role. In the developing world, indoor air quality is thought to play a larger role in the development and progression of COPD than it does in the United States.
WHO HAS IT?
In the United States, an estimated 10 million adults had a diagnosis of COPD in 2000, but data from a national health survey suggest that as many as 24 million Americans are affected.
From 1980 to 2000, the COPD death rate for men grew from 73.0 deaths per 100,000 men to 82.6 deaths per 100,000 men. Rates for women grew much faster than the rates for men. For U.S. women, the rate rose from 20.1 deaths per 100,000 women to 56.7 deaths per 100,000 women over that 20-year span.