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COPD Facts and Statistics

COPD Facts, COPD Fact sheet, COPDIf you have been diagnosed with COPD, could potentially be at risk for this disease or know someone who could potentially be at risk, it can be helpful to learn more about it. Educating yourself and learning how to prevent the development of COPD, or the worsening of symptoms, can be profoundly beneficial to your health. Here are some COPD facts and statistics, as well as symptoms and treatments, that you should know about.

COPD Facts and Statistics: What You Should Know

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is an umbrella term for a group of progressive lung diseases that impact your breathing. Typically included under the COPD umbrella are:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Asthma

Generally speaking, people with COPD will have emphysema or chronic bronchitis, but not necessarily asthma. However, they may also experience a combination of two or three of these conditions. Most notably, these conditions make it difficult to breathe comfortably and get the oxygen your body needs, which is why COPD can be so debilitating.

There are some key COPD facts to understand, according to the American Lung Association (ALA):[2]

  • There is no cure for COPD, but the symptoms can be treated
  • COPD is a chronic disease, so you will live with daily symptoms
  • COPD is a progressive disease, so symptoms will worsen over time
  • COPD is often preventable by avoiding smoking or minimizing exposure to pollutants
  • Once COPD develops, it can cause lifelong disability and become life-threatening

COPD Facts and Statistics: What Are the Impacts of COPD

COPD is a chronic, progressive lung disease that can be a combination of several conditions that fall under the COPD category. Once you understand the basics, it can also be helpful to know a bit more about the disease and how it impacts people. Below, you’ll see some relevant COPD facts and statistics regarding the prevalence of the disease and how it affects those living with it.

COPD Statistics: Prevalence of COPD

COPD is probably more common than you may think, and more than likely, it’s more common than the numbers indicate.

  • As of 2018, approximately 6.6% of adults in the United States, or 16.4 million, reported a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis, emphysema or COPD[3]
  • As of 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports a prevalence of 251 million cases of COPD globally[4]
  • Chronic bronchitis is over 2% more common in women than in men3
  • Emphysema is about 0.5% more common in men than in women3
  • COPD diagnoses are significantly more likely in people age 65 and over3

While the numbers are already significant, it is estimated that millions more have COPD and don’t know it. In fact, between 2007 and 2010, approximately 8.5 million people in the United States had been diagnosed with COPD, but more than 18 million people had the kind of evidence of impaired lung function that is consistent with a COPD diagnosis.3

COPD Statistics: COPD and Health Care

Because COPD is a chronic and progressive disease, the health care costs can be significant.

  • In 2016 in the U.S., approximately 5.7 million doctor were due to a COPD diagnosis[5]
  • In 2018, about 8.1 million emergency department visits had COPD as the primary diagnosis5
  • In 2010, costs attributed to having COPD in the United States were $32.1 billion, and those costs are estimated to now be over $49 million[6]
  • In 2010, Medicare paid 51% of the health care costs associated with COPD, while Medicaid paid 25% and private insurance paid 18%6

COPD Statistics: Mortality

As COPD continues to progress, it can eventually progress to the point that it becomes life-threatening.

  • COPD is the fourth leading cause of death by disease in the United States[7]
  • The number of COPD deaths in the U.S. are higher among women than men, although men are more likely to die of COPD than women7
  • 86% of COPD deaths in the U.S. occur in people age 65 or older7
  • It is estimated that 5% of all global deaths were due to COPD in 20154
  • More than 90% of global COPD deaths occur in low and middle income countries4

COPD Facts and Statistics: Risk Factors and Consequences

COPD is a preventable disease, so it can be helpful to know what the risk factors are for developing COPD, as well as who is at a higher risk for it. If you are at risk, you can take preventative steps and you may even be able to avoid developing COPD. If you do develop COPD, however, it can affect your quality of your life.

COPD Statistics: Risk Factors

COPD rates can vary depending on a number of different factors in a person’s life.

  • Approximately 85-90% of all COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking[8]
  • COPD rates are 4.3 times higher in current smokers and 3.7 times higher in former smokers when
    compared to those who have never smoked[9]
  • Women who smoke are almost 13 times more likely to die from COPD than women who have never smoked8
  • Men who smoke are almost 12 times more likely to die from COPD than men who have never smoked8
  • Lower family income is associated with higher COPD rates9

COPD Statistics: Impact of COPD on Quality of Life

COPD eventually limits your ability to easily participate in your life without medical interventions. As a result, there is a significant effect on your quality of life.

  • 42.8% of people with COPD reported moderate or worse psychological distress, a rate over 20% higher than among those without COPD9
  • 50.6% of those with COPD in 2018 reported at least one activity limitation9
  • People with COPD are at an increased risk of complications from influenza and other respiratory illnesses, including COVID-199

COPD Facts: What to Look Out for

COPD tends to be underdiagnosed both because patients ignore early signs of COPD and because early COPD can be misdiagnosed. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 50% of adults with low pulmonary function are not aware that they have COPD. Because of this, it can be helpful to know what to look out for so that you can see your doctor if you have signs of COPD.[10]

The most common symptoms you should look for are: 10[11]

  • Difficulty taking a deep breath
  • Shortness of breath, even with minimal activity
  • Chronic cough which produces significant mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing or tightness in the chest

Although these symptoms are the most common, it is not guaranteed that every patient will have every one of them. If you are experiencing any problems breathing or with a cough that will not go away, you should see your pulmonary doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.

COPD Facts: What They Mean for You

The COPD statistics above are sobering, so it is understandable if you are struggling with the reality of a COPD diagnosis. However, while COPD may not be curable, with the right treatment, it is manageable. In fact, with successful treatment, many people with COPD can continue living long and active lives. Depending on the stage of the disease when it is diagnosed, the five-year expectancy for COPD patients is between 40-70%.[12] The earlier you catch it and the faster you seek treatment, the higher your life expectancy is likely to be and the better your quality of life.

As such, it is important to talk with your doctor right away if you suspect that you might have COPD, or if your COPD symptoms worsen. You do not have to accept difficulty breathing as a fact of life. Find out what treatments, including oxygen therapy, may benefit you. If you are prescribed oxygen therapy, contact Inogen to find out how our products can help you improve your freedom, mobility and independence. Breathe better and improve your quality of life with COPD with Inogen today.

Oxygen. Anytime. Anywhere.

Sources cited:

[1] “Types of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” Stanford Health Care (SHC) , Stanford Medical Center, 12 Sept. 2017, stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/chest-lungs-and-airways/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease/types.html.

[2] “Learn About COPD.” American Lung Association, American Lung Association, Updated 5 Mar. 2021, www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/learn-about-copd.

[3] “COPD Prevalence.” American Lung Association, American Lung Association, Accessed 18 May 2021, www.lung.org/research/trends-in-lung-disease/copd-trends-brief/copd-prevalence.

[4] “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 1 Dec. 2017, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-(copd).

[5] “FastStats – Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Apr. 2021, www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/copd.htm.

[6] “COPD Costs.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Feb. 2018, www.cdc.gov/copd/infographics/copd-costs.html.

[7] “COPD Mortality.” American Lung Association, American Lung Association, Accessed 18 May 2021, www.lung.org/research/trends-in-lung-disease/copd-trends-brief/copd-mortality.

[8] “What Causes COPD.” American Lung Association, American Lung Association, 5 Mar. 2021, www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/what-causes-copd.

[9] “COPD Risk Factors and Patient Characteristics.” American Lung Association, American Lung Association, Accessed 18 May 2021, www.lung.org/research/trends-in-lung-disease/copd-trends-brief/copd-risk-factors.

[10 ]“CDC – Basics About COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 July 2019, www.cdc.gov/copd/basics-about.html.

[11] “COPD Symptoms.” American Lung Association, American Lung Association, 5 Mar. 2021, www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/symptoms-diagnosis.

[12] Jacob, Divya. “What Is the Life Expectancy of Someone With COPD?” MedicineNet, MedicineNet, 7 Aug. 2020, www.medicinenet.com/what_is_the_life_expectancy_of_someone_with_copd/article.htm.


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