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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung diseases that cause reduced airflow in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

The most common lung conditions that make up COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing. COPD is a progressive disease, which means it worsens over time. There is no cure for COPD. For this reason, COPD can result in major long-term disability and can limit an individual's ability to perform routine activities.
According to the American Lung Association, more than 16.4 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but millions more may have the disease without even knowing it. COPD plays a large role in death and disability in the United States. While COPD can't be cured, early diagnosis can help treat and manage the symptoms. Treatments can include medicine, surgery, and oxygen therapy.
COPD causes less air flow through the airways. When you breathe, oxygen enters the bloodstream through small air sacs (called alveoli) at the end of the airways in the lungs. At the same time, waste gasses such as carbon dioxide leave the blood and are exhaled. Normally these air sacs are elastic and inflate and deflate like balloons during breathing.

When someone has COPD, this delicate system is compromised because of one or more of the following:
  • The airways and sacs have lost some of their elasticity.
  • The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed.
  • The airways create more mucus than usual, which can clog them.
  • The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed.

In emphysema, the walls between many of the air sacs are damaged, causing them to lose shape and become loose. The walls of the air sacs can also be destroyed, leading to fewer, larger sacs that reduce the amount of air that is exchanged.

In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the airways is constantly inflamed and irritated, causing it to thicken. Large quantities of thick mucus also form in the airways as a result, making it hard to breathe.

COPD can lead to other health issues. These other health issues include heart disease, lung cancer, and high blood pressure. People with COPD also have a higher risk of getting respiratory infections such as colds, pneumonia, and the flu.


Lung function and COPD image

Source: National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2013, "What is COPD?"
People at risk include:
  • People who smoke. Smoking is the biggest risk factor for COPD.
  • People exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • People with asthma or who have had asthma.
  • People with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, a rare genetic mutation which may cause COPD.
  • People exposed to chemicals, dust, and other lung irritants at work.
There are many steps you can take to prevent COPD:
  • If you smoke, the best way to prevent COPD is to quit smoking. Even if you have already been diagnosed with COPD, quitting smoking can improve symptoms and possibly avoid complications.
  • Avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Avoid other air pollutants and irritants. Use personal protective gear if you come into contact or are exposed to lung irritants and chemicals at work or in the outdoors.
  • Prevent and treat lung infections; certain vaccines, like the flu vaccine and pneumonia immunizations, are important in preventing chronic lung infections. If you have a current respiratory infection, follow the treatment plan prescribed by your medical provider.

Resources


Emergency department visits for COPD


Number of ED visits, by year



Crude rates are among individuals age 25 and over, per 10,000 population, by year.
The age group categories are 25-44, 45-64, 65-84, and 85+.


Bear River LHD

Central LHD
  • Juab County: Overall, by Age group
  • Millard County: Overall, by Age group
  • Piute County: Overall, by Age group
  • Sanpete County: Overall, by Age group
  • Sevier County: Overall, by Age group
  • Wayne County: Overall, by Age group

  • Southeast LHD
  • Carbon County: Overall, by Age group
  • Emery County: Overall, by Age group
  • Grand County: Overall, by Age group

  • Southwest LHD
  • Beaver County: Overall, by Age group
  • Garfield County: Overall, by Age group
  • Iron County: Overall, by Age group
  • Kane County: Overall, by Age group
  • Washington County: Overall, by Age group

  • Tri-County LHD
  • Daggett County: Overall, by Age group
  • Duchesne County: Overall, by Age group
  • Uintah County: Overall, by Age group

  • Weber-Morgan LHD
  • Morgan County: Overall, by Age group
  • Weber County: Overall, by Age group


  • Age-adjusted rates are among individuals age 25 and over, per 10,000 population, by year.


    Hospitalizations for COPD

    Number of hospitalizations, by year



    Crude rates are among individuals age 25 and over, per 10,000 population, by year.
    The age group categories are 25-44, 45-64, 65-84, and 85+.


    Bear River LHD

    Central LHD
  • Juab County: Overall, by Age group
  • Millard County: Overall, by Age group
  • Piute County: Overall, by Age group
  • Sanpete County: Overall, by Age group
  • Sevier County: Overall, by Age group
  • Wayne County: Overall, by Age group

  • Southeast LHD
  • Carbon County: Overall, by Age group
  • Emery County: Overall, by Age group
  • Grand County: Overall, by Age group

  • Southwest LHD
  • Beaver County: Overall, by Age group
  • Garfield County: Overall, by Age group
  • Iron County: Overall, by Age group
  • Kane County: Overall, by Age group
  • Washington County: Overall, by Age group

  • Tri-County LHD
  • Daggett County: Overall, by Age group
  • Duchesne County: Overall, by Age group
  • Uintah County: Overall, by Age group

  • Weber-Morgan LHD
  • Morgan County: Overall, by Age group
  • Weber County: Overall, by Age group


  • Age-adjusted rates are among individuals age 25 and over, per 10,000 population, by year.


    Utah Tracking receives hospital admission and emergency department visit data for COPD from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Health Care Statistics.

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    The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site (http://epht.health.utah.gov). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 01 October 2022 9:01:25 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: http://epht.health.utah.gov ".

    Content updated: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 10:25:07 MDT