copdWhat is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive disease that keeps your lungs from functioning normally. It is characterized by a gradual loss of lung function. The airways in your lungs are blocked, and breathing takes more effort. You may have started to limit your activities due to shortness of breath. With a proper diagnosis and treatment, you may become more independent and start feeling better.

COPD includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic asthma or some combination of these conditions. It is usually the result of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke and occupational dusts.

There is no cure for COPD. But with proper treatment, education and disease management, you can learn to maintain an active lifestyle.

Currently in the United States, more than 36.1 million adults are afflicted with COPD, a slowly progressive disease that typically becomes symptomatic in 50 to 60 year old adults. COPD limits the flow of air in and out of the lungs, restricting oxygen intake and contributing to a build up of carbon dioxide in the body.

There’s a great need for pulmonary rehabilitation in Franklin County. According to the 2002 Franklin County Health Assessment, 15.7% (168,229) of Franklin County adults report having been diagnosed with chronic lung disease. This is more than double the national average of 6.4%. COPD is the third leading cause of death in Franklin County, after heart disease and cancer.

The American Lung Association of Ohio estimates that 110,719 adults in Franklin County (10% of the county’s population) have COPD. Given the high rate of smoking in adults in Ohio and the increasing mortality rate, it is evident that COPD is a serious problem.

While COPD affects approximately 20% of the U.S. adult population, a study conducted in 2000 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only about 10 million (63%) American adults afflicted with COPD were under a physician’s care. This means that over 6 million people suffer with the disease without proper medical care or access to rehabilitation services.

Medical costs for treating COPD are staggering. Non-asthma COPD in the United States annually accounts for 16,367,000 office visits and 500,000 hospitalizations. About two-thirds of the costs of treating patients with COPD are incurred in the hospital. Annual cost to the nation for COPD is approximately $32.1 billion, including healthcare expenditures of $18 billion and indirect costs of $14.1 billion. While these statistics demonstrate the current prevalence, severity and expense of COPD, the incidence and concurrent expenses of this disease are expected to climb even higher as Americans age.

These statistics do not reflect social and financial expenses incurred by those adults who are undiagnosed and not under a physician’s care. Nor does this data reflect and quantify the decrease in quality of life for those individuals with COPD as the disease progresses. A recent American Lung Association survey revealed that half of all COPD patients (51%) say their condition limits their ability to work. It also limits them in normal physical exertion (70%), household chores (56%), social activities (53%), sleeping (50%) and family activities (46%).

The most common forms of COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which affect over 500,000 individuals in Ohio. Tobacco use is to blame in over 85% of lung disease cases. Ohio had the third highest cigarette-smoking rate, 27.6% for adults, among all 50 states in 1999. The prevalence of current smokers in Franklin County is 21.7% (232,521 persons).


Ohio Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, 1999, Ohio Department of Health

2002 Franklin County Health Survey, Professional Research Consultants

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Bethesda: Publication No. 03-5220, March 2003.

Total population for Franklin County = 1,071,524. US Census Bureau, 2000.
Estimated Prevalence of Lung Disease. American Lung Association of Ohio Report, May 2002.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Surveillance—United States, 1979-2000. CDC; August 2002.
American Lung Association Fact Sheet: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. October 2003.

All statistics in this paragraph from: The National Lung Health Education Program. Strategies in preserving lung health and preventing COPD and associated diseases. Chest 1998; 113, 123S-163S.

American Lung Association Fact Sheet: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. October 2003.

Figured from US Census 2000 data.

COPD Information Brochure
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