Global Initiative For Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease Release: New Data Reveal COPD Afflicts Three Times The Number Of Adults Over 40 Than Previously Estimated

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- At least 10 percent of the world's adults over the age of 40 may have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), according to new figures to be released on November 17, World COPD Day, by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). The new data suggests that the lung disease is more than three times as common as was previously estimated.

The figures being released are preliminary results from two major international studies in Brazil, Chile, China, Mexico, Turkey, and Uruguay. The studies were carried out in China and Turkey by Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD), an international group of researchers studying the prevalence of COPD. PLATINO, the group's Latin American counterpart, conducted the research in the four other countries.

These initial findings suggest that COPD affects between 10 and 15 percent of adults over the age of 40 in the six countries studied. Previous statistics compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that less than one percent of adults between the ages of 45 and 60, and less than four percent over age 60, have COPD.

"COPD is like an iceberg -- the burden of disease that we know about represents just the tip of the problem," said A. Sonia Buist, MD, Scientific Director of BOLD. "Many people who have COPD don't know it and the prevalence of the disease is increasing worldwide."

COPD is a devastating lung disease that progressively robs a person of the ability to breathe. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that COPD kills more than 2.75 million people each year. Worldwide it ranks as the fourth leading cause of death, alongside HIV/AIDS.

"These numbers are beginning to give us an idea of just how great the burden of COPD is around the world," says Leo Fabbri, MD, Executive Committee Chair of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), which is organizing World COPD Day. "The good news is effective treatments exist that can improve the lives of people with COPD and help slow the progression of the disease. That's why it's crucial that we don't ignore COPD."

November 17 marks the third year of World COPD Day, organized by a partnership between health care groups and respiratory educators. The event's slogan is "Don't Ignore COPD." Events in more than 50 countries worldwide will be aimed at encouraging people at risk for COPD to see their doctor and begin treatment if they have the disease, while encouraging governments to make COPD a health care priority.

Most national statistics on COPD are based on the proportion of the population that is being treated for the lung disease. COPD is often not diagnosed until it is already quite advanced and affects quality of life, so this method is likely to underestimate the actual proportion of the population that has COPD.

The new studies, by contrast, involve administering a breathing test, called spirometry, to a representative sample of each country's population in order to estimate the proportion of the population that actually has COPD. Such studies have rarely been conducted in the past.

To help identify people with COPD at an earlier stage, GOLD has developed the Breath of Life Questionnaire (available at ), containing five simple questions about COPD symptoms. Recent research led by Peter Calverley, MD, a member of the GOLD Executive Committee, has shown that these questions identify the people most likely to have abnormal lung function.

GOLD is an independent non-profit organization, founded in 1997. Its objective is to work with health care professionals, public health officials and COPD patients around the world to boost awareness of COPD and decrease the morbidity and mortality caused by this respiratory illness.

Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease

CONTACT: John Ruane, +1-678-585-0176, or , for GlobalInitiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease

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