As World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day approaches on November 19, a recent GSK-led global survey is pointing to a rise of COPD in the United States.
The “Continuing to Confront COPD International Patient Survey” by GSK assessed people living with COPD and explored the changes in the disease’s prevalence and burden by comparing data from this new study with the outcomes of the “Confronting COPD” survey from 10 years ago.
COPD has been growing in the US: in a decade it passed from the fourth leading cause of death to the third, right after heart disease and cancer. The GSK survey collected data that suggests that COPD prevalence is increasing, from 6 to 7 percent of adults 40 years old and older who have the disease.
The burden of the disease on the U.S. healthcare system is high as well: 26 percent of the Americans that participated in the assessment reported they visited emergency rooms because of their COPD, and 17 percent were hospitalized within a year. Mexico has COPD-related reports very similar to those of United States, while most European countries appear to suffer less from the COPD burden.
According to the survey, patients may be underestimating the severity of their symptoms, since 54 percent of the Americans reported clinically significant dyspnea, but 70 percent classified their COPD as moderate or mild in terms of severity, demonstrating the subjectivity of personal health evaluations and the disease itself is disconnected.
“Given GSK’s 40-year heritage in the respiratory disease area, we were keen to follow up on our decade-old landmark study—the first COPD cross-national, population-based survey of its kind—with an update that helps provide insights as to how the disease and its management have evolved over time,” commented GSK’s lead global epidemiologist on the survey, Kourtney Davis, PhD, MSPH. “From these findings we see that the face of COPD is changing. Traditionally, COPD was considered to be a disease of elderly male smokers, but now, more women than men report having COPD, and about a quarter of patients have never smoked.”
The number of American women affected by COPD is 7.1 percent, while men total 6.2 percent. Hence, physicians feel the need to consider additional evaluation when women experience respiratory symptoms, recurrent respiratory infections, or fatigue. Also, 25 percent of the US participants said they were “never-smokers,” which suggests that environmental exposure, asthma, and non-smoking people that experience symptoms need early screening.