Important Facts And Figures About COPD

Megan Ray  |  July 30, 2014

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease causes the highest number of deaths in the U.S. per year after heart disease and cancer.

After heart disease and cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes the highest number of deaths in the U.S. per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COPD is typically identifiable among people in senior living by symptoms like frequent coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty with respiration during normal activities. The National Institutes of Health estimated that as many as 50 percent of people living with COPD are unaware that they have it. Learn more about the common causes of the disease and what you can do to prevent it during COPD Awareness Month:

Smoking-related COPD
Smoking cigarettes and cigars remains the number one cause of COPD among Americans, and is estimated to be responsible for between 85 and 90 percent of deaths related to the disease, according to the American Lung Association. The NIH stated that individuals over the age of 40 who smoke or used to smoke are most likely to experience COPD, especially if exposure to the fumes was consistent or occurred over an extended period of time. Men may be particularly likely to face long-term effects of the disease, and males who smoked are 12 times more likely to die of COPD than those who did not.

Genetic factors and inhalation of dangerous substances
A study from the NIH indicated that certain professions in which workers are exposed to a higher than average amount of inhalable chemicals may put individuals at risk for developing COPD. Among these occupations were coal and rock miners as well as concrete manufacturers. People working around certain chemicals may also be more likely to experience the disease.

Considering genetics, COPD affects women and men almost equally, according to 2013 estimates from the World Health Organization. However, women have been exhibiting more fatal cases of the disease than men for the past decade, and females are twice as likely to experience chronic bronchitis as a result.

Treating and preventing COPD
Individuals who believe they may be experiencing COPD symptoms should speak with a medical professional, who can perform breathing tests. Lessen your chances of developing the disease by quitting or never beginning to smoke, and wearing protective face masks when entering areas of high pollution from chemical use. For people with COPD, doctors may prescribe medications or recommend a pulmonary rehabilitation program, which aims to promote easier breathing through proper exercise, nutrition, breathing strategies and psychological counseling, among other tactics.

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