The American Lung Association Releases 'Taking Her Breath Away: The Rise of COPD in Women'

June 05, 2013

Today the American Lung Association released “Taking Her Breath Away: The Rise of COPD in Women” highlighting the severe impact of COPD on the female population. This is the sixth report in the Disparities in Lung Health Series, which examines the disproportionate impact the disease has on at-risk populations.

Key findings include:

  • Even if the amount of smoking is the same, women are more likely to develop symptoms of COPD earlier, and have more severe disease.
  • There is growing evidence that women are biologically more susceptible to COPD.
  • Women in general have lower incomes and have higher out-of-pocket medical expenses than men, making them more likely to struggle to afford the care they need.

“It’s time for the millions of women like me who are living with COPD to break their silence and speak out about the toll that COPD is taking on our lives,” said Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, a national spokesperson for COPD and a member of the COPD Foundation Board of Directors. “We need to lead the charge for access to adequate disease management services and social support that will empower us to treat the disease as early as possible and improve the quality of our lives.”

This report is an important contribution to the body of work that the community has been compiling on gender disparity. Patient-centered research and advocacy programs implemented by the COPD Foundation recognize this disparity and are working to tackle the challenge. In addition to the Foundation’s regular education and support programs, for the last several years the COPD Foundation has been partnering with the Women In Government Foundation to educate their members about the burden of COPD in their communities and the role that state legislators can play in making a difference. Joint educational sessions at WIG’s regional conferences and annual Healthcare Summit, screening events for members, radio public service announcements and other activities have helped raise awareness of the early signs of COPD.

A new partnership with the Society for Women’s Health Research will be aimed at identifying the solutions to gender disparity from a science-based perspective through a better understanding of the physiological predispositions and disease mechanisms in women. The Society for Women’s Health Research is the thought leader in research on the biological differences in disease and is dedicated to transforming health through science, advocacy and education.

Improving the lives of all those affected by COPD is at the heart of the COPD Foundation’s public health programs and we are pleased that the report will strengthen the community’s collaboration in addressing this pressing public health concern.