The CDC team also found strong ethnic and geographical disparities in COPD. For example, COPD was more common among Puerto Ricans and whites than among blacks and Mexican Americans.
COPD was also more common among adults living below the poverty level (8.3 percent) than among those whose income is at least 200 percent above the poverty level (4.3 percent).
And there were big differences region-to-region. The rate of COPD was almost twice as high in the East South Central states (7.5 percent) vs. the Pacific states (3.9 percent), according to the report.
COPD is a progressive and incurable disease. However, progress has been made in treating the symptoms of the disease, which can at least improve a patient's quality of life. This report found that the rate of hospitalizations for COPD fell among both men and women during the study period, the CDC noted. However, the death rate from COPD dropped only for men.
"Although you can't cure it once you have it, getting diagnosed early and receiving treatment can really help prevent a lot of the complications and ease the symptoms," Akinbami said.
Commenting on the report, Dr. E. Neil Schachter, a professor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and director of the Mount Sinai COPD Program in New York City, said that "this has been developing of the last 15 years -- that COPD is a major health hazard in the United States."
"COPD is the only growing disease among the major diseases that kill people," noted Schachter, who is also a professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine.
Right now, he said, doctors can only treat COPD symptoms -- mainly difficulties in breathing -- and there is no way to stop progression or reve
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