5 Surprising Facts About COPD

COPD has been given the nickname "the silent killer" because of how it can come to be diagnosed, and for how prevalent it is, in spite of its “silent” nature. It's also a problem that many people aren't aware of the dangers of COPD, and what to do to help prevent it, or at least the advanced stages of it.

Below are 5 of some of the most shocking facts about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The more people know about COPD, the easier it will be to start lowering these shocking statistics.

Fact #1: A shocking number of those with COPD remain undiagnosed.

It's estimated that 60 to 85% of mild and moderate cases of COPD are undiagnosed. This is because COPD doesn't truly become apparent until up to 50% of a patient's lung function is gone.

Fact #2: 48% of Americans with COPD don't know they have it.

Someone can have COPD in the mild stage for several years. For this reason, it goes untreated, and once it gets to a more advanced stage, it begins  to worsen quickly.

The disease will progress more rapidly if the patient continues to smoke, and the coughing and shortness of breath are not addressed.

Fact #3: COPD has quickly risen to being the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.

It was projected by the Centers for Disease Control that COPD would be the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States by the year 2020. However, by 2008 it had already taken the 3rd place spot. It had then became apparent that more people had COPD than they had originally thought.

Heart disease is still the #1 killer of Americans, with several types of cancer tied for the #2 spot and COPD in third.

Fact #4: Not every case of COPD is caused by smoking.

An estimated 20% of those diagnosed with COPD have never smoked. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, but this doesn't make it the only one.

So what causes COPD in non-smokers?

Working in conditions that cause poor air quality with dust and gases, and working in these conditions for a long time can put someone at a higher risk of developing COPD.

Genetics can also play a major factor. The only type of COPD that truly cannot be prevented is Alpha-1, which is a rare genetic condition that causes the patient to develop COPD. Only 1% of COPD cases are caused by Alpha-1.

Another major cause of COPD in non-smokers is environmental pollution. If you've lived in an evironment with a poor air quality, you are at much higher risk of developing COPD.

Fact #5: COPD has severe economic costs.

COPD costs the United stats approximately 49.9 billion dollars per year. Treatment and therapy for COPD can become expensive, especially when it is poorly managed.

It is also true that 20 to 40% of those diagnosed with COPD are likely to retire early, and can lose an estimated $316,000 in lifetime earnings because of it.

Emergency room visits can be very expensive. In 2011 alone, 1.78 million people visited the ER for COPD flare-ups in. Frequent emergency room visits are common among those with COPD, and within 30 days of hospitalization, 21% of COPD patients will be readmitted to the hospital further increasing costs. It is very important to properly manage and treat your COPD symptoms

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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