Purpose: To describe trends in the epidemiology of COPD in Canada from 1980 to 1995, in terms of perceived prevalence, mortality, and hospital morbidity.
Data sources: We limited the analysis to data related to chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or chronic airway obstruction not classified elsewhere, and excluded asthma (Ninth International Classification of Diseases, codes 490 to 492 and 496). The perceived prevalence rate of COPD was derived from the 1994-1995 National Health Survey. Mortality and hospital morbidity data (from 1980 to 1995) were obtained from the Health Statistics Division of Statistics Canada.
Results: From the National Health Survey, it was estimated that 750,000 Canadians had chronic bronchitis or emphysema diagnosed by a health professional. Prevalence rates were the following: ages 55 to 64 years, 4.6%; ages 65 to 74 years, 5.0%; > or =75 years, 6.8%. From 1980 to 1995, the total number of deaths from COPD increased from 4,438 to 8,583. Although the age-standardized mortality rate remained stable throughout this period in men (around 45/100,000 population), it doubled in women (8.3/100,000 in 1980 to 17.3/100,000 in 1995). There were 55,782 hospital separations in 1993-1994 with COPD as the primary discharge diagnosis (compared to 42,102 in 1981-1982). In people aged > or =65 years, the age-specific hospital separation rate increased over this period, especially in women > or =75 years (from 504/100,000 to 1,033/100,000). The average in-hospital length of stay was 9.6 days in 1981-1982 and 8.3 days in 1993-1994.
Conclusion: COPD represents a major health issue in Canada and will likely remain so for decades. Physician and non-physician health professionals who provide health care, as well as those who fund it must actively encourage approaches for primary and secondary prevention of this condition as well as approaches shown to be effective in addressing its associated impairment, disability, and handicap.