Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among adults--United States, 2011

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012 Nov 23;61(46):938-43.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of progressive, debilitating respiratory conditions, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, characterized by difficulty breathing, lung airflow limitations, cough, and other symptoms. COPD often is associated with a history of cigarette smoking and is the primary contributor to mortality caused by chronic lower respiratory diseases, which became the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2008. Despite this substantial disease burden, state-level data on the prevalence of COPD and associated health-care resource use in the United States have not been available for all states. To assess the state-level prevalence of COPD among adults, the impact of COPD on their quality of life, and the use of health-care resources by those with COPD, CDC analyzed data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Among BRFSS respondents in all 50 states, the District of Columbia (DC), and Puerto Rico, 6.3% reported having been told by a physician or other health professional that they had COPD. In addition to the screening question asked of all respondents, 21 states, DC, and Puerto Rico elected to include an optional COPD module. Among persons who reported having COPD and completed the optional module, 76.0% reported that they had been given a diagnostic breathing test, 64.2% felt that shortness of breath impaired their quality of life, and 55.6% were taking at least one daily medication for their COPD. Approximately 43.2% of them reported visiting a physician for COPD-related symptoms in the previous 12 months, and 17.7% had either visited an emergency department or been admitted to a hospital for their COPD in the previous 12 months. Continued surveillance for COPD, particularly at state and local levels, is critical to 1) identify communities that likely will benefit most from awareness and outreach campaigns and 2) evaluate the effectiveness of public health efforts related to the prevention, treatment, and control of the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Female
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Quality of Life
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult