Tracking Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Vermont

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of progressive lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD accounts for most deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases and was the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2021. 

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Tobacco smoke is a key factor in the development and progression of COPD in the U.S., though exposure to air pollutants in the home and workplace, genetic factors, and respiratory infections also play a role.

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Your Questions Answered
What is COPD?

COPD refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

What are some examples of environmental pollutants linked to COPD?

Although the primary cause of COPD is smoking, studies have also shown strong links between exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution and COPD.

The most common indoor exposures are smoke from tobacco, fireplaces and wood stoves, while outdoor exposures include ozone and particle pollution, and emissions from vehicles and industrial sources. Job-related exposures include fumes, gases, and dusts.

What COPD data are included in the Vermont Tracking Portal?

Vermont Tracking provides annual data about hospitalizations for COPD starting in 2001, and emergency department visits for COPD starting in 2003.

Who is at risk for COPD?

People with a history of asthma, ages 65 and older, and current or former smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with COPD.  

In the past, males were thought to be at higher risk for COPD than females, but current data shows that more females die from COPD than males in the U.S. Since 2000, more females than males have died from COPD in the U.S. This could be because females are typically diagnosed later on when the disease is more advanced and treatment is less effective. Females are also more impacted by the health effects of tobacco smoke and indoor air pollution. 

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