World COPD Day: COPD Foundation Calls Attention to Important Day, Focuses on Acute Impact on Women in the U.S.

November 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 20, 2013 – The COPD Foundation (COPDF) joined its voice with others across the world to celebrate the 12th Annual World COPD Day. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease with symptoms that include shortness of breath, wheezing and cough. It is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide and accounts for more than three million deaths per year.

“COPD occurs most often in patients who are over age 40 and have a history of exposure to COPD risk factors,” says John W. Walsh, president and co-founder of the COPD Foundation. “Worldwide, the most commonly encountered risk factor for COPD is cigarette smoking.”

Other important risk factors include dusts and chemicals encountered on the job, and smoke from biomass fuels (such as coal, wood and animal dung) burned for cooking and heating in poorly ventilated dwellings, especially in developing countries.

In the U.S., COPD has been steadily rising in women (6.7 percent) versus men (5.2 percent). COPD killed 7,000 more women than men in 2010, the 11th consecutive year that COPD has killed more women than men.

“The statistics reveal the disparities in burden of disease, risk factors, and healthcare practices that must be addressed,” Walsh adds. “Our goal is to educate all Americans about this debilitating, preventable disease -- and save lives.”

Key statistics about COPD among women include:

  • Women who smoke are 13 times more likely to die from COPD than non-smokers
  • Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis than men
  • COPD kills more women than breast cancer and diabetes combined
  • COPD is the nation’s third leading cause of death, killing women at almost double the rate in some states

In November, the COPD Foundation will focus its efforts on increasing exposure, addressing educational gaps, and featuring COPD screenings throughout the country to promote women’s health and COPD awareness. Individuals can determine their risk for the disease by taking the COPD Risk Screener.

“The COPDF is committed to making a difference in the health and well-being of the millions of women at risk from COPD,” Walsh adds. “It is critical that we work together to raise awareness about prevention, early diagnosis and treatment and help to reverse a public health crisis that, ultimately, affects us all.”

About the COPD Foundation

The mission of the COPD Foundation ( is to prevent and cure chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and to improve the lives of all people affected by COPD. The C.O.P.D. Information Line, 866-316-COPD (2673), is a toll-free number for information and referrals on COPD, offering callers access to peer-to-peer patients and caregiver associates. DRIVE4COPD ( is a public awareness and education campaign of the COPD Foundation.