(HealthDay News) – The prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is about 6% across the U.S., and its impact on health care utilization and quality of life creates a substantial public health care burden that needs to be addressed, according to research published in the Nov. 23 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Nicole M. Kosacz, MPH, from the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education in Tennessee, and colleagues used data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to assess the state-level prevalence of COPD among adults, its impact on their quality of life, and their utilization of health care resources.

The authors report that, across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the prevalence of physician- or other health professional-diagnosed COPD was 6.3%, with the prevalence increasing with age from 3.2% for those aged 18–44 years to more than 11.6% for those aged ≥65 years. The prevalence varied considerably between states, with states in the highest quartile for COPD prevalence sitting along the Ohio and lower Mississippi rivers. In a subgroup of respondents with COPD, 76% had been given a diagnostic breathing test; 64.2% felt that their quality of life was impaired by shortness of breath; and 55.6% reported taking at least one daily medication. In the previous 12 months, 43.2% had visited their physician for symptoms related to COPD and 17.7% had visited an emergency department or been admitted to the hospital.

“The overall prevalence of COPD and its associations with health care utilization and quality of life make it a serious public health burden that needs to be addressed, especially in areas where the prevalence remains well above the national average,” writes the author of an editorial note.

Full Text