Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an increasing cause of chronic morbidity and mortality around the world. The major cause of the disease is smoking. Despite the gravity of the problem there is no knowledge of its rate in the Israeli smoking population.
Objectives: To assess the prevalence of COPD and early lung cancer among smokers.
Methods: People aged 45 up to 75 with a history of at least 20 pack-years cigarette smoking, including quitters, were screened for COPD. They were interviewed and a spirometry was performed.
Results: Of the 1150 people recruited 92% underwent and performed acceptable spirometry; 22% of these subjects had airflow limitation and were diagnosed with COPD according to the GOLD classification. Only 4% had been diagnosed as COPD prior to this screening. The majority of those tested were unaware of or unconcerned about developing the disease. There was no correlation between pack-years smoking and development of COPD, but there was a relative correlation of pack-years smoking and severity of COPD, particularly in the older group (r = 0.42).
Conclusions: About one-fifth of the smokers aged 45 and up developed COPD. There is a significant gap between the disease distribution and its awareness in the population at risk. The need for a national screening program and early diagnosis of COPD in people at risk is needed.