COPD Rates May Rise as Population Ages
Researchers Say Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Will Become 3rd or 4th Leading Cause of Death
WebMD News Archive
COPD Around the World
Buist, Mannino and colleagues derived their worldwide COPD prevalence
estimates from examinations of 9,425 people in their 40s and older living in 12
countries: China, Austria, Turkey, South Africa, Iceland, Germany, Poland,
Norway, Canada, the Philippines, Australia, and the U.S.
The rate of moderate to severe COPD was found to be 10.1% overall -- 11.8%
for men and 8.5% for women.
COPD risk nearly doubles every decade after people reach 40, and this was
reflected in the much higher rates of disease among people in their 70s and
Rates of moderate to severe COPD were 20% or higher among men in this age
group in nine of the 12 countries included in the study.
The lowest incidence of moderate to severe disease in the study among the
elderly was 19.2% in the U.S. The highest rate was 46.6% in the
Mannino tells WebMD that as high as these figures are, they may not reflect
the true burden of COPD.
"The figures may not include the oldest and sickest patients, so there
may be more disease out there than we were able to measure," he says.
Mannino acknowledges that the new prevalence estimates paint a grim picture
of the future in terms of COPD burden. But he says much has been learned about
the disease over the past few years that can help patients.
There is a growing recognition that COPD affects organs other than the
lungs, and many clinicians are taking a more holistic approach to its treatment
than they have in the past.
"An important intervention for early COPD other than smoking cessation
is to put patients on [cholesterol-lowering] statins if they need them, because
most patients with early disease die of cardiovascular causes than of
respiratory disease," Mannino says. "Exercise is also important. From
my perspective, maintaining an active lifestyle may be the best intervention of