A new report published in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report has found that nearly one-quarter of Americans that suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, are unable to work.
Using U.S. health data for 2013, the CDC team led by CDC investigator Anne Wheaton, found that just over 24 percent of adults with COPD reported that they cannot work compared to about 5 percent of adults in the general population.
Of those, about half said they also had some form of "activity limitation" linked to their condition, and more than 38 percent said they found it difficult to walk or climb stairs.
Due to the alarming results, the CDC advises people with the condition to quit smoking as soon as possible if they do. However, the report also found that “more than one-third of those with COPD continued to smoke.”
"Smoking cessation has been shown to slow the progression of COPD," the report said, and smoking raised the odds of activity limitations in patients. "This result reinforces the importance of smoking cessation by COPD patients," the experts said.
Another way COPD patients can combat the illness is engaging in a "pulmonary rehabilitation" program. This sometimes requires physical activity that may be challenging for some persons with COPD, but the CDC team insists that exercise training is an “essential part of helping the body maximize its respiratory potential.”
Wheaton also maintains that public health efforts should “focus on prevention, such as anti-smoking programs and treatment to slow the progression of the disease, manage [accompanying illnesses], and lessen symptoms.”