COPD Risk Factors and Patient Characteristics

COPD rates are not the same across different groups. This page describes COPD rates by the following:  cigarette smoking status, family income, psychological distress, activity limitations, and influenza and pneumonia vaccination status.

COPD Rates by Cigarette Smoking Status

  • Most COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking. Compared to never smokers, COPD rates are 4.3 times higher among current smokers and 3.7 times higher among former smokers.

COPD Rates by Family Income

  • In 2018, COPD rates were higher among those with lower family incomes compared to those with a family incomes two times greater than the poverty threshold.

Psychological Distress

  • Psychiatric comorbidities, such as depression and anxiety, are common among those with COPD. In 2018, 42.8% of those with COPD reported moderate or worse psychological distress, compared to 21.1% among those without COPD.

Activity Limitations

  • COPD can severely limit one’s ability to work, get around, do chores, or manage personal care. In 2018, half (50.6%) of those with COPD reported being limited in at least one way, compared to only 14.3% among those without COPD.

Influenza Vaccinations

  • Those with COPD are at increased risk for complications from influenza and are recommended to receive annual vaccination against the seasonal flu. In 2018, over half (51.6%) of those with COPD reported receiving a flu vaccination in the last year, compared to 43.3% among those without COPD.

Pneumonia Vaccinations

  • Those with COPD are at increased risk for pneumococcal pneumonia infection and are recommended to be vaccinated against it. In 2018, 58.0% of those with COPD had received a shot for pneumococcal pneumonia, compared to 42.0% among those without COPD.
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. HCUPnet, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, 1993-2016.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 2018. Analysis by the American Lung Association Epidemiology and Statistics Unit using SPSS software.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. CDC WONDER On-line Database, compiled from Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2018, 2020.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey, 1999-2018. Analysis by the American Lung Association Research and Program Services Division of using SPSS software.
  • National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Morbidity and Mortality: 2009 Chart Book on Cardiovascular, Lung and Blood Diseases.
  • Tilert T, Dillon C, Paulose-Ram R, et al. Estimating the U.S. Prevalence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using Pre- and Post-Bronchodilator Spirometry: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007–2010. Respiratory Research. 2013; 14(1):103.
  • United States Census Bureau. Population Estimates, 2009.
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