Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is becoming more apparent in women since the year 2000. New studies find that, of those diagnosed, 58% are women. This disease of the lungs makes breathing difficult. The two main conditions that fall under COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Coming down with a cold or being subjected to harmful air toxins can worsen COPD symptoms. There are resources, such as the American Lung Association and pulmonary rehabilitation clinics, which offer support. The Lung Association is continuing efforts to prevent onset of lung disease and support those currently diagnosed.
There is growing evidence that women are biologically more prone to lung disease caused by pollutants in the air and second hand smoke exposure. It is with great importance that policies are implemented that lower the risk of exposure to second hand smoke, and bring about services for people who smoke who have a desire to quit smoking.
The effect of living with COPD is tremendous. It is expensive for the individual due to healthcare costs and a reduced ability to earn an income. It is also expensive for the community due to lost productivity, disability and uninsured hospitalizations. Also, many patients with COPD have other comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease or depression. It can be tricky managing more than one condition at a time.
Disparities in diagnosis and disease management contribute to poor outcomes for women with COPD. It is important to talk to your doctor about treatment plans. Although there is no cure for COPD, there are ways to provide relief to make the symptoms manageable. Maintaining lung health is important, it is essential to get regular checkups with a provider to improve health outcomes.
It is imperative that health equity be reached among those with COPD, a disease that is mostly overlooked in the public health field. It is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. Advocating for COPD awareness will help make the disease a priority. To learn more, visit www.lung.org/copdinwomen.