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Who's at risk and why?

Adults :: COPD :: Who's at risk and why?

Current and ex-smokers are most at risk of developing COPD. Chemicals found in tobacco smoke stimulate inflammation in the lungs, leading to destruction of the alveoli and narrowing of the airways, which can cause COPD.

Other people at risk of COPD are those who have been exposed to inhaled dusts and gases in the workplace, those who have an inherited genetic problem that leads to the early onset of emphysema or those who may have previously been diagnosed with asthma.

Occasionally COPD may be the result of inadequate lung development in childhood that can be trans-generational, or damage caused by infections in childhood that affect lung growth and development.

Levels of deprivation and levels of smoking are linked, with higher levels of smoking found in more deprived groups. This leads to a higher prevalence of COPD in the most deprived quintiles, as shown in Figure 1:

Figure 1: COPD incidence by deprivation quintile.
Figure 1: Number of people per 100,000 ever diagnosed with COPD, by deprivation quintiles, 2004-2012[1]
Figure 2: Trends in adult smoking prevalence
Figure 2: Recent trends in smoking prevalence (ages 18+)[2]

Current and ex-smokers are most at risk of contracting COPD. Chemicals found in tobacco smoke stimulate inflammation in the lungs, leading to destruction of the alveoli and narrowing of the airways, which can cause COPD. Other people at risk of contracting COPD are those who have been exposed to inhaled dusts and gases in the workplace, those who have an inherited genetic problem that leads to the early onset of emphysema or those who may have previously been diagnosed with asthma. Occasionally COPD may be the result of inadequate lung development in childhood that can be trans-generational, or damage caused by infections in childhood that affect lung growth and development.

COPD mainly affects people over the age of 45 and is more prevalent in older age groups. Figure 3 shows that approximately half the cases of COPD are found in people aged over 65 years.

Figure 3: Estimated prevalence by age
Figure 3: Estimated prevalence of COPD in Medway by age[3]

Prevalence of COPD is on average higher in males than females, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: COPD incidence by sex.
Figure 4: Number of people per 100,000 ever diagnosed with COPD, by sex, 2004-2012[1]

References

[1]   British Lung Foundation. COPD Stratistics https://statistics.blf.org.uk/copd
[2]   Public Health England. PHOF: 2.14 smoking prevalence 2013;
[3]   Association of Public Health Observatories. COPD Prevalence Model