What is COPD?
COPD, short for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases which include: emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (irreversible) asthma, and severe bronchiectasis. Other names for COPD are Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COLD) and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (CLRD)1.
Individuals with COPD begin to experience increased breathlessness and a cough that doesn’t go away. Both of these signs are not normal signs of aging; that’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor about taking a spirometry test (breathing test) to measure the health of your lungs if you have any of these symptoms. (For more information on taking a spirometry, visit the Getting Tested section of this website.)
Other symptoms of COPD include:
- Chronic coughing (both with and without sputum),
- Tightness in your chest.
Facts About COPD
- The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) estimates that 12 million adults have COPD, and another 12 million are undiagnosed or developing COPD2.
- COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 126,129 deaths in 20031.
- COPD kills more women than men each year3.
- COPD will be the third leading cause of death in the U.S. by 20202.
- A person with COPD dies every four minutes in the U.S.
- COPD cost the U.S. economy $32.1 billion, in direct and indirect costs in 20022.
- It is estimated that over 600 million people worldwide have COPD.
- Smoking is not the only cause of COPD. Second-hand smoke, occupational dust and chemicals, air pollution, and genetic factors can also cause COPD1.
- COPD is relatively easy to diagnose using a spirometry machine, where the patient exhales as much as possible into a tube4.
- COPD does not have a cure, but treatments are currently available to help individuals manage their symptoms of COPD5.
To learn more about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD, visit the COPD Foundation’s website at www.copdfoundation.org or call 1-866-316-COPD (2673).
1 Information and statistics taken from Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS): http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/copd.htm. Website last accessed 3/18/08.
2 Statistics from National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey: Research for the 1995-2004 redesign. Hyattsville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, NCHS. Vital and Health Stat 2(126), 1999. Last accessed 3/18/08.
3 Statistics from CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/airpollution/copd/copdfaq.htm#why. Website last accessed 3/18/08.
4 Information from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Copd/Copd_Diagnosis.html. Website last accessed 3/18/08.
5 Information from the NHLBI available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Copd/Copd_Treatments.html. Website last accessed 3/18/08.