American Lung Association Brief: Alabama Has Among Highest Rates of COPD in the Country

The Lung Association’s COPD State Briefs outline steps for healthcare and public health professionals to help improve the lives of people living with COPD

November is COPD Awareness Month—a time to raise awareness, take action and help make a difference in the lives of people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is long-term, progressive and makes it hard to breathe. There is currently no cure for COPD, but the disease is treatable. As the month comes to a close, the American Lung Association is driving attention to its recently released COPD State Briefs, which include data about prevention, diagnosis, health outcomes and treatment of the disease for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The State Briefs found that Alabama has one of the highest COPD prevalence rates in the country.

 Nationally, approximately 5 percent of adults, or 12.5 million people, are living with COPD.[1] In Alabama:

  • 369,369 of adults have been diagnosed with COPD;
  • The COPD prevalence rate is 9.4 percent;
  • 3,215 people die each year from COPD;
  • Annual cost of COPD treatment is $543 million; and
  • 338,250 days of work are lost each year due to COPD.

“Unfortunately, here in Alabama, we face a higher burden of COPD, but together we can work to help prevent COPD and support our community members living with the disease to live longer and more active lives,” said Ashley Lyerly, senior director of advocacy for Alabama at the American Lung Association. “The new COPD State Briefs also examine key indicators for COPD in Alabama, such as air quality, tobacco use, education, income level and vaccination rate, which can help us determine where to focus our prevention efforts and help those most impacted by the disease.”

The Lung Association recommends the following actions to reduce the burden of COPD in Alabama:  

  • Use a validated COPD screening tool for people who may be at risk of COPD or reporting symptoms;
  • Confirm a COPD diagnosis using spirometry, especially in primary care;
  • Use evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation services;
  • Promote recommended vaccinations; and
  • Recommend pulmonary rehabilitation, COPD education and a COPD Action Plan.

Alabama is one of 11 states with the highest COPD rates and highest burden in the country. The other states are Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia. COPD prevalence rates range from 3.7 percent in Hawaii to 13.6 percent in West Virginia. 

The goal of the COPD State Briefs is to raise awareness for COPD and empower public health and healthcare professionals to take actionable steps to prevent the onset of illness, reduce health inequities, set goals for earlier diagnosis and ensure clinical guidelines are used to manage and treat COPD.

The COPD State Briefs were created with support by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn more and view the COPD State Briefs at Lung.org/COPD-briefs.

 

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey, 2020. Analysis performed by the American Lung Association Epidemiology and Statistics Unit using SPSS software.

For more information, contact:

Victoria O'Neill
(312) 273-5890
[email protected]

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