Rationale: COPD has been perceived as being a disease of older men. However, >7 million women are estimated to live with COPD in the USA alone. Despite a growing body of literature suggesting an increasing burden of COPD in women, the evidence is limited.
Objectives: To assess and synthesize the available evidence among population-based epidemiologic studies and calculate the global prevalence of COPD in men and women.
Materials and methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis reporting gender-specific prevalence of COPD was undertaken. Gender-specific prevalence estimates were abstracted from relevant studies. Associated patient characteristics as well as custom variables pertaining to the diagnostic method and other important epidemiologic covariates were also collected. A Bayesian random-effects meta-analysis was performed investigating gender-specific prevalence of COPD stratified by age, geography, calendar time, study setting, diagnostic method, and disease severity.
Measurements and main results: Among 194 eligible studies, summary prevalence was 9.23% (95% credible interval [CrI]: 8.16%-10.36%) in men and 6.16% (95% CrI: 5.41%-6.95%) in women. Gender prevalences varied widely by the World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease subregions, with the highest female prevalence found in North America (8.07% vs 7.30%) and in participants in urban settings (13.03% vs 8.34%). Meta-regression indicated that age ≥40 and bronchodilator testing contributed most significantly to heterogeneity of prevalence estimates across studies.
Conclusion: We conducted the largest ever systematic review and meta-analysis of global prevalence of COPD and the first large gender-specific review. These results will increase awareness of COPD as a critical woman's health issue.
Keywords: COPD; age; gender; meta-analysis; prevalence; systematic review.