COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive respiratory disease known to be life-threatening, and is described through a tenacious obstruction of airflow in the lungs.

It basically inhibits normal respiration patterns, and is the kind of disease that is found to be irreversible. Part of the COPD disease network is chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and emphysema. To further understand and know more about the fatal illness, the following COPD facts are presented. (1)

One of the COPD facts that we need to know is that this disease is highly life-threatening and has affected millions of people around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sixty-four million people as of 2004 were affected with COPD globally.(2) On the following year, three million were identified to have died of this disease worldwide. The occurrence of mortality is more evident in low and middle-income nations as stated by the World Health Organization. The estimated total mortality of COPD victims is expected to rise more than 30% in the following ten years considering no interventions are done to address the disease.(2)  COPD was found to affect both men and women who are avid smokers.

Another point very relevant for us to know from the COPD facts is its primary cause. It was identified a long time ago that the main cause of the said disease is smoking. Based from facts, smoking can either be through first-hand or second-hand smoking. This disease is irreversible, which would mean that the damages that it had inflicted to the body would not be recovered or cured. Aside from it being non-curable, interventions such as treatments through medication can reduce the progress rate of COPD. (3)

According to COPD experts, the disease is commonly manifested through the difficulty of breathing, which the affected victim grasps for air. Other signs and symptoms of the disease include the accumulation of irregular sputum, and a long-term cough. A very common manifestation is that patients with this disease usually grasp for air when they indulge themselves to minimal physical activities, such as a short walk or even just carrying an object with some kind of heavy weight. Usually, COPD is known and confirmed through a spirometer test. This diagnostic test measures that amount of air a person can inhale and exhale. It also measures the speed of how fast a movement of air is going inside and outside of the body. Usually COPD is diagnosed in the adult stage of life, which is around 40 years or older. This is due to the fact that COPD is a slow and progressive disease that attacks the body over time.

In response to the increasing occurrence of COPD globally, strong efforts are exerted by different agencies worldwide. This is performed through raising the understanding and consciousness of the people through dissemination of information about COPD facts, creating and improving a healthy and aware environment, promoting the reduction of the use of tobacco products, and providing early interventions to prevent early and untimely deaths of people affected with COPD.(4)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease develops slowly and usually becomes apparent after 40 or 50 years of age. The most common symptoms of COPD are breathlessness (or a “need for air”), chronic cough, and sputum (mucous) production. Daily activities, such as walking up a short flight of stairs or carrying a suitcase, and even daily routine activities can become very difficult as the condition gradually worsens. Sufferers also frequently experience exacerbations, that is, serious episodes of increased breathlessness, cough and sputum production that last from several days to a few weeks. These episodes can be seriously disabling and result in need for urgent medical care (including hospitalization) and sometimes death. (2)

Most patients with COPD are middle-aged or elderly. In 2000, 16 million office visits were attributed to COPD-related conditions, with the caseload expected to increase with the aging of the population. There is no cure for COPD. True breakthroughs in treatment, particularly disease-modifying agents, have been elusive. The only strategy known to reduce the incidence of the disease is smoking cessation. (5)

Sources:

(1) – https://www.who.int/respiratory/copd/definition/en/

(2) – https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-(copd)

(3) – https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/copd.html

(4) – https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/sites/default/files/media/docs/COPD%20National%20Action%20Plan%20508_0.pdf

(5) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4106574/