Over 480 Million People Estimated to Have COPD, World’s Third Deadliest Disease, ResMed Study Reports

  • New prevalence figure 22–126% higher than previous estimates
  • Prevalence expected to reach 592 million by 2050
  • Researchers urge global action on smoking cessation and air pollution reduction

BARCELONA, Spain, Sept. 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Over 480 million people worldwide likely suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, according to a late-breaking abstract led by ResMed (NYSE: RMD, ASX: RMD) presented at the European Respiratory Society Congress today.1

This figure is 22–126% higher than today’s most cited estimates, which range from 212–392 million reported over the past decade.2,3,4

COPD is a chronic, progressive disease that restricts a person’s ability to breathe. Early-stage sufferers may use inhaled medications to reduce symptoms. Advanced stages may require supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation in the home or hospital.

COPD-related healthcare utilization and lost productivity costs European Union countries an estimated €48.4 billion per year.5 In the United States, COPD-related hospitalizations alone cost over $3 billion a year.6

ResMed’s global analysis combined known cases of COPD plus likely cases based on known risk factors, such as smoking, and other indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Researchers expect that number to reach an estimated 592 million by 2050 if current risk factor trends continue.

“This number should be a warning,” said study co-author and ResMed Chief Medical Officer Carlos M. Nunez, M.D. “It should urge doctors to be more vigilant in screening and testing, since early treatment can enhance quality of life and longevity; urge people and their loved ones to learn and spot symptoms early; urge payers to help everyone take these proactive steps; and frankly inspire stronger, more immediate action to lower risk factors for COPD like smoking and air pollution.

“In less than a generation, we’re headed north of 600 million cases globally,” Nunez continued. “But we can curb that number and help save millions of lives with education and meaningful action.”

Am I at risk for COPD?

Leading causes of COPD are:7

  • Smoking
  • Long-term exposure to air pollutants, including dust, fumes, or chemicals
  • A rare heredity gene defect called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which your doctor can test you for

COPD symptoms

Ask your doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing:8

  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Frequent coughing or wheezing, with or without mucus
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Chest tightness

ResMed recently led a global research effort to update the world’s estimated prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): 936 million, nearly tenfold higher than the previous figure. Lancet Respiratory Medicine published the findings in 2019.9

About ResMed
At ResMed (NYSE: RMD, ASX: RMD) we pioneer innovative solutions that treat and keep people out of the hospital, empowering them to live healthier, higher-quality lives. Our digital health technologies and cloud-connected medical devices transform care for people with sleep apnea, COPD, and other chronic diseases. Our comprehensive out-of-hospital software platforms support the professionals and caregivers who help people stay healthy in the home or care setting of their choice. By enabling better care, we improve quality of life, reduce the impact of chronic disease, and lower costs for consumers and healthcare systems in more than 140 countries. To learn more, visit ResMed.com and follow @ResMed.

1 Boers E et al. ERJ Suppl (ERS Congress late breaking abstract) 2022
2 GBD 2019 Murray C J L et al. (2020)
3 Adeloye D et al. J Glob Health 2015
4 Adeloye D et al. Lancet Respir Med 2022
5 « The economic burden of lung disease ». Eur Lung (Accessed 18 August 2022)
6 Perera PN et al. COPD 2012
7 COPD Foundation. https://www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/Understanding-COPD/What-Causes-COPD.aspx (Accessed 30 August 2022)
8 COPD Foundation https://www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/Understanding-COPD/What-is-COPD.aspx (Accessed 30 August 2022)
9 Benjafield AV et al. Lancet Respir Med 2019

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