COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a disease state characterized by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. The airflow limitation is usually both progressive and associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to noxious particles or gases. The most important risk factor for COPD is cigarette smoking. This devastating, life-threatening chronic lung disease may affect 1 in 10 adults over age 40 worldwide and kills nearly 3 million people per year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that COPD is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide (after coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and acute respiratory infection), sharing the fourth place with HIV/AIDS.

COPD affects mainly smokers over age 40, but inhalation of smoke from biomass fuels, used for cooking and heating in poorly ventilated dwellings especially in developing countries, is also a risk factor. The first symptoms of COPD are cough, sputum production, and breathlessness during exercise. The disease is progressive and without treatment, patients will be dramatically restricted in daily activities such as walking up a short flight of stairs, walking the dog, shopping, or even getting washed and dressed in the morning.

Towards the end of the disease, total personal disability is the result, and patients require intense care, including oxygen therapy. COPD also imposes a dramatic economic burden: In 2002, the medical costs from COPD in the US were estimated at some $32.1 billion.

More information about COPD is available on, the official website of GOLD or this site.

About GOLD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a major cause of chronic morbidity and mortality throughout the world. The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease GOLD was created to increase awareness of COPD among health professionals, public health authorities, and the general public, and to improve prevention and management through a concerted worldwide effort.

The initiative prepares scientific reports on COPD, encourages dissemination and adoption of the reports, and promotes international collaboration on COPD research. While COPD has been recognized for many years, public health officials are concerned about recent and continuing increases in its prevalence and mortality, which are due in large part to the increasing use of tobacco products worldwide and the changing age structure of populations in developing countries.



What is Copd

COPD fact sheet

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