The official blog of the Lung Institute.
When someone is diagnosed with a chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it can feel overwhelming. There are so many things a patient must consider moving forward to maintain their health. This stress can make the patient feel isolated and afraid to do things in fear of causing a symptom flare-up, but fear not. There are millions of people across the United States going through the same situation. With your health in mind, look at these COPD statistics and why you are not alone.
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive form of lung disease ranging from mild to severe. COPD is known for the restriction of airflow into and out of the lungs that makes breathing difficult. In fact, COPD symptoms, including breathlessness during exertion and eventually during rest, get worse over time. COPD is also an umbrella term for other chronic lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
What Causes COPD?
It may be obvious, but cigarette smoking is the number one cause of COPD. The chemicals and toxins inside cigarettes destroy the lung tissue and cause lung inflammation. When the body inhales cigarette smoke repeatedly, the cilia, or hair-like structures which clear mucus from the lungs, is destroyed. This means the body can’t clear mucus, thus causing the what’s known as a “smoker’s cough.”
Air pollutants and other environmental factors are also common causes of COPD. Air pollution can cause inflammation in the lungs, leading to damage. Living in dense urban environments or near industrial facilities can increase your risk of air pollution exposure.
There are people who get diagnosed with COPD and never smoke cigarettes. A rare genetic disorder known as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is known to decrease the production a specific protein. This deficiency may cause emphysema to develop.
COPD Statistics: Who Has COPD?
There are many important COPD statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 15.7 million Americans, which equals out to 6.4 percent of the total population, reported to have been diagnosed with COPD. More than 50 percent of adults with lower pulmonary function didn’t know they had COPD, so realistically that number could be higher. Below is a list of groups who were more likely to report having COPD in 2013:
- Current or former smokers.
- People with a history of asthma.
- People age 65-74, and less than 75.
- Individuals wo were unemployed, retired or unable to work.
- Individuals who were divorced, widowed or separated.
In 2014, COPD and other chronic lower respiratory diseases were the third leading cause of death in the United States. When breaking that down by the numbers, 147,101 people with chronic lower respiratory diseases – including asthma – died. According to the World Health Organization, 3 million people worldwide died due to COPD in 2015.
COPD Statistics: You Are Not Alone
Hearing that last batch of COPD statistics sounds grim, but the main thing to takeaway is that you’re not fighting this disease by yourself. There are millions of people taking this fight one step at a time, one day at a time. One of the ways people fight COPD is by joining a lung disease support group. Participants can openly discuss their questions and concerns about the disease. In addition, group members share tips on what has helped them deal with disease flare-ups and other complications.
Lifestyle modifications, such as diet and exercise, are a great way to fight COPD symptoms, but sometimes, more is needed. That’s why some people are considering stem cell therapy. Instead of focusing only on disease symptoms, stem cell therapy may affect disease progression, thereby improving quality of life.
If you or someone you know is battling COPD or other chronic lung disease such as pulmonary fibrosis or interstitial lung disease, it may be time to consider the Lung Institute. For more information on stem cell therapy, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065.