Burden of COPD
According to WHO estimates, 65 million people have moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). More than 3 million people died of COPD in 2005, which corresponds to 5% of all deaths globally. Most of the information available on COPD prevalence, morbidity and mortality comes from high-income countries. Even in those countries, accurate epidemiologic data on COPD are difficult and expensive to collect. It is known that almost 90% of COPD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
At one time, COPD was more common in men, but because of increased tobacco use among women in high-income countries and the higher risk of exposure to indoor air pollution (such as biomass fuel used for cooking and heating) in low-income countries, the disease now affects men and women almost equally.
In 2002 COPD was the fifth leading cause of death. Total deaths from COPD are projected to increase by more than 30% in the next 10 years unless urgent action is taken to reduce the underlying risk factors, especially tobacco use. Estimates show that COPD becomes in 2030 the third leading cause of death worldwide.