COPD Today and in the Future

In the United States alone nearly 15 million adults have been diagnosed with COPD. It is believed that there remains approximately 12 million that have not been diagnosed. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) COPD has an annual financial cost of $36 billion in the United States. It is estimated that by 2020 the cost will increase to $49 billion.


What is COPD?

COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is actually a group of diseases that affect the lungs and the ability to breath. The two diseases that fall under the umbrella of COPD are:

  • Chronic Bronchitis exhibits cough and mucus production by inflammation of the airways. A person needs to exhibit these symptoms most days of a three month period a year for two consecutive years for Bronchitis to be considered chronic.
  • Emphysema is damage or collapse of the air sacs in the lungs.

Why Both Diseases are Called COPD

If you break down the name of COPD, it reads like this:

  • C – Chronic means of long duration or recurring frequently.
  • O – Obstructive is to block, close up or interrupt a passage.
  • P – Pulmonary is relating to the lungs.
  • D – Disease relates to an incorrectly functioning organ.

Both Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema fit the description. They are different, one from the other, but have many characteristics in common.

Causes of COPD

The most common cause of COPD is smoking cigarettes. The smoke can inflame the lining of the airways, causing them to lose their elasticity. It can also be caused by air pollution, secondhand smoke, chemicals and occupational dust. Researchers suspect that genetic factors could predispose smokers to the disease, and they have found that a deficiency of alpha-1-antitrypsin could account for a small percentage of the COPD cases.

COPD is currently being treated with Bronchodilators, inhaled and oral steroids, Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors,Theophylline, antibiotics, oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation programs. In the most severe of cases lung volume reduction surgery or lung transplants have been done. Smoking cessation is advised for all smokers as well as avoiding other known irritants.

Clinical trials are going on in most every 50 states. More information can be found by doing a search of COPD Clinical Trials.