Twenty-seven percent of individuals aged 35 and older are likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at some point in their lives, meaning that the risk of developing the disease now exceeds that of developing congestive heart failure, acute heart attack and several common cancers. That is according to a recent study published in a special European Respiratory Society issue of The Lancet.
To reach these findings, researchers examined health administrative data from Ontario, Canada, with a total population of roughly 13 million people. All individuals free of COPD in 1996 were monitored for 14 years for three possible outcomes: diagnosis of COPD, reached 80 years of age or death. Results were grouped by sex, socioeconomic status and whether individuals lived in a rural or urban setting.
Researchers found that the overall projected lifetime risk of being diagnosed with COPD by a physician is 27.6%, meaning one in four adults will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives. Researchers also found that risk of diagnosis was increased by lower socioeconomic status and living in a rural area. Further, the lifetime risk of developing COPD is triple that of having a heart attack and developing breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men and is comparable to that of developing asthma.
Researchers believe that by 2030, COPD will be the third-most common cause of death worldwide, a leading cause of hospitalizations and one of the most expensive chronic diseases. They note that “clinical evidence-based approaches, public health action and more research are needed to identify effective strategies to prevent COPD and ensure that those with the disease have the highest quality of life possible.”