Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a term referring to two lung diseases, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, that are characterized by obstruction to airflow that interferes with normal breathing.  Both of these conditions frequently co-exist, hence physicians prefer the term COPD. It does not include other obstructive diseases such as asthma.

COPD is a leading cause of death.

Beginning in 2000 in the USA, women have exceeded men in the number of deaths attributable to COPD.  

Smoking is the primary risk factor for COPD. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of COPD deaths are caused by smoking. Female smokers are nearly 13 times as likely to die from COPD as women who have never smoked.  Male smokers are nearly 12 times as likely to die from COPD as men who have never smoked.

Other risk factors of COPD include air pollution, second-hand smoke, history of childhood respiratory infections and heredity.  Occupational exposure to certain industrial pollutants also increases the odds for COPD.  A recent study found that the fraction of COPD attributed to work was estimated as 19.2% overall and 31.1% among never smokers.

For more information on COPD, see your health care provider or the following web site: