COPD epidemic could overwhelm healthcare systems within two decades, study says (Amir Khakban and Dr. Don Sin)

Health authorities should brace themselves for an epidemic of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) over the next two decades, despite a decline in smoking rates, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.

COPD is a progressive lung disease associated with smoking, air pollution and age. To predict future rates of the disease, researchers conducted forecasting analyses, combining population statistics and health data for the province of B.C. They concluded that between 2010 and 2030, the number of COPD cases in the province will increase by more than 150 per cent—despite decreased rates of smoking. Among seniors over 75 years of age, rates of COPD will more than triple, increasing by 220 per cent. The staggering figures astonished even the researchers.

Lead author Amir Khakban, health economist in the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences at UBC and the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, said age-adjusted COPD rates have remained constant assmoking rates have declined. “This pattern, along with an aging population and a decrease in mortality rates, is responsible for the alarming growth in the burden of COPD,” he said.

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