Which States Have the Highest and Lowest Rates of COPD?

It’s no secret: COPD is a widespread condition that affects over 24 million people in the United States. Thanks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavior Risk Surveillance Survey, we can see just how common the condition is.

US COPD Prevelance Map

COPD’s prevalence across all 50 states ranges from just under 4% of the state population to over 9%.

Prevalence is defined by the proportion of existing cases in the population relative to the overall population of each state.

Unsurprisingly, a closer look at these numbers and other demographics about the various states reveals correlations that could explain why some states are hit harder by COPD than others.

States with the Highest Rates: Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma

States with the Lowest Rates: Minnesota, Washington, Hawaii, Utah, California

The complete state listing of COPD Prevalence:

COPD graphic

Information from: http://www.everydayhealth.com/copd/best-and-worst-states-for-copd.aspx


States with lower median incomes have higher COPD rates, because of the nature of the work involved with lower income jobs. They usually involve poor conditions like exposure to irritants. Those states located in concentrated areas of tobacco farming, or those with low average income levels, are the ones at the top of the highest rates list.

While some states appear at the top of the COPD Prevalence as well as the ALA’s “Most Polluted Cities” List, there is no obvious connection between the two. Even if the correlation were stronger, it would not imply a tangible connection because bad air quality is not a cause of COPD, but can make breathing more difficult if someone already has this condition.

Even though there is no strong connection, the takeaway is clear: people with COPD who live in states with sub-standard air quality need to be extra careful in prevention in order to minimize complications and flare ups.

Are you surprised by your state’s prevalence rate? Did you think it would be higher or lower? Share your reaction with us on Facebook or in the comments section.


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