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29-03-2010 | Respiratory | Article

COPD prevalence in Canada increasing


Free abstract

MedWire News: The prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has increased significantly in recent years, particularly among women, results from a Canadian study suggest.

Writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Andrea Gershon (University of Toronto, Ontario) and team explain: “A recent large-scale, population-based study conducted in several different countries has estimated the prevalence of COPD to be more than 10% among adults aged 40 years and older.”

But they add: “While the current prevalence of COPD has become better understood, information about whether COPD prevalence is increasing, decreasing, or stable is still lacking.”

To address this, the researchers searched the Ontario Health Insurance Plan database, the Canadian Institute for Health Information database, and the Ontario Registered Persons Database for all individuals diagnosed with or receiving treatment for COPD between 1996 and 2007. The number of people with COPD who died over the study period was also assessed.

The researchers found that the number of adults with COPD increased from 430,000 in 1996 to 708,743 in 2007 – an overall increase of 64.8%. This increase was significantly higher in women, at 75.7%, than men, at 54.9%. Aging of the population could not entirely account for the overall increase in COPD prevalence, as the size of the adult population increased by only 27.6% during this period.

The researchers also found that the age- and gender-standardized prevalence of COPD increased from 7.8% of the population in 1996 to 9.5% in 2007 – a 23.0% relative increase. Women had more than twice the increase in age-standardized prevalence compared with men, at 33.4% versus 12.9%.

However, the age- and gender-standardized incidence of COPD decreased from 11.8 per 1000 adults in 1996 to 8.5 per 1000 adults in 2007 – a relative decrease of 28.3%.

The team also found that the age- and gender-standardized all-cause mortality rate among individuals with COPD decreased from 5.7% to 4.3% over the study period, representing a relative decrease of 24.0%.

Gershon et al conclude: “Our findings indicate a substantial increase in COPD prevalence in the last decade, with more of the burden being shifted from men to women.”

They add: “Effective clinical and public health strategies are needed to prevent COPD and manage the increasing number of people living longer with this disease.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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