Report: COPD Prevalence Increasing Rapidly in Women

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an incurable, progressive lung disease that was most recently in the news for taking the life of former First Lady Barbara Bush. Last fall, researchers gathered for 2 days to discuss and explore research needs and opportunities related to the impact of female sex and gender on lung and sleep health maintenance and management of lung diseases and sleep disorders, of which COPD is one of the best-known examples.

A report from that workshop meeting, organized by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in partnership with the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) and the Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR), details many of the ways that COPD has, in fact, become a women’s disease.

COPD prevalence is increasing more rapidly in women, particularly in younger women, and COPD-related hospitalizations and deaths in women also surpass men. A report from the American Lung Association said more than 7 million women have COPD, and millions more have symptoms but have not been diagnosed. Women also predominate the roughly 25% of nonsmokers with COPD.

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