Online Program

Examining the public health burden of COPD, the third leading cause of death: What population-based data tell us

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 4:30 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

Winston Liao, North Carolina COPD Taskforce, Chapel Hill, NC

Compared to other chronic diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been under-recognized for its severity and lethality as a leading cause of death and disability.  Updated data at the national level are available from various organizations.  The purpose of this presentation is to describe the public health burden of COPD from a data perspective.


Morbidity, mortality, and cost burden data will be presented, using resources that include CDC, NHLBI, American Lung Association, and others.  This will be done primarily through the use of graphics on prevalence, co-morbidities, death rates, emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and healthcare costs.  COPD risk factors will also be discussed in addressing preventive measures that can be undertaken for targeting COPD.


COPD prevalence in 2011 was 6.3%, ranging from 3.1% (Puerto Rico) to 9.3% (Kentucky).  In North Carolina, the leading co-morbidities are disability status (65.8%), depression (43.8%), asthma (38.9%), history of cardiovascular diseases (29.4%), and diabetes (25.7%). The age-standardized death rate in 2010 was 40.8 per 100,000 US population – men had a higher rate (47.6/100,000) than women (36.4/100,000).  ED visits were higher among women (85.2/10,000) than men (71.0/10,000), and hospitalizations were also higher among women (5.6/1,000) than men (5.5/1,000).  Of the estimated $49.9 billion in annual cost for COPD, $29.5 billion was for direct healthcare expenditures.


Epidemiologic and economic data amplify the need for a coordinated, broad-based, multi-faceted approach in targeting preventive and control measures for this chronic disease.  These data are critical and available to support and drive policies for COPD.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the magnitude of COPD in the US from a data perspective Identify three major COPD comorbidities Explain how COPD data can be used to support and drive COPD-related policies

Keyword(s): Chronic Disease Management and Care, Chronic Disease Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have analyzed, presented, and published COPD data. Having been a chronic disease epidemiologist at the NC Division of Public Health, I have worked with chronic lower respiratory disease data and programs.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.