Poor, Rural US Regions Have Higher Prevalence of COPD

Poor, Rural US Regions Have Higher Prevalence of COPD

The prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is influenced by residency location and income, according to a research team led by Sarath Raju, MD, MPH, from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. The investigator presented her study, in which she highlighted that living in a rural area and poverty are risk factors for the lung condition, at the 2015 American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference.

The abstract “The Impact Of Poverty And Rural Residence On Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Prevalence: A Nationwide Analysis” presented at the ATS conference focused on the conclusions from a study conducted with a representative sample of the country used to accurately define the risk factors associated with COPD.

“We wanted to identify the prevalence of COPD in urban and rural areas in the U.S. and determine how residence, region, poverty, race and ethnicity, and other factors influence COPD rates,” explained Raju in a press release about the study, which used data from the National Health Interview Survey, the U.S. Census, and the National Center for Health Statistics Urban-Rural Classification Scheme.

The researchers used a population-based sample of 87,701 adults aged 40 years or older to evaluate the prevalence of COPD, defined as self-reported emphysema or chronic bronchitis. The analysis focused on community- and individual-based factors able to increase the prediction of suffering from COPD, including region, census level poverty, urban or rural residence, fuel sources, age, sex, race or ethnicity, smoking years, household income, home ownership, and education status.

According to the study, the overall prevalence of COPD is 7.2%, while among small metro or rural-poor communities, the prevalence increases to 11.9%. The researchers concluded that rural or southern residence and community poverty are factors related to increased prevalence of the condition. However, by adding individual income to the model, the researchers found that community poverty ceased to have as much of an impact.

In addition, the investigation concluded that while there was a correlation between biomass fuels and COPD in the South, there same was not verified in an overall multivariate model. “Findings suggest regional differences and the need for future disparities research to understand the potential contribution of occupational exposures, fuel sources, and indoor air pollutants to COPD prevalence in poor, rural areas,” added the researchers.

There are several factors that increase the prevalence and probability of suffering from COPD, some of them more obvious such as smoking, and others less known. A different study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) focused on the correlation of COPD with childhood abuse and household dysfunction concluded that adverse childhood experiences (ACE) may be related to the development of the disease, especially among women.

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