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More than one million Californians suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

November 28, 2012

  • UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

    Approximately 1.1 million Californians have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema and some cases of adult asthma, according to a new Center study that’s the first to detail the characteristics of adults with COPD in the state. 

    More than half of Californians who suffer from COPD live in Southern California including Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego and Imperial counties, the study found.
     
    The policy note co-authored by Ying-Ying Meng, Center co-director of the Chronic Disease Program, and Melissa Pickett, a Center research associate, along with Public Health Institute’s Survey Research Group, also revealed that half of all adults with COPD take at least one medication to control their symptoms daily. More than half report that shortness of breath affects their quality of life.
     
    Nevertheless, Californians with COPD experience serious challenges in receiving the health care they need, researchers found. For instance, approximately one-third of California adults with COPD said they never received a breathing test, known as a Spirometry exam, the only approved method for diagnosing and monitoring COPD.
    Twice as many Californians with COPD reported that the cost of health care was an obstacle to receiving medical care as compared to Californians without the disease.
     
    Smoking is the most well-known risk factor for developing and worsening COPD. A third of adults with COPD are current smokers and a quarter are exposed to household smoking.
    However, a substantial number of adults with COPD, or 37 percent, have never smoked. Air pollution exposure, recurrent infections, diet and genetic factors also increase the risk of developing COPD. 
     
    The policy note, which is based on 2011 California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data and funded by BREATHE LA, a regional non-profit focused on lung health and air quality, also details socio-demographics characteristics of adults with COPD and their health status.
     
     
    The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research is one of the nation's leading health policy research centers and the premier source of health-related information on Californians.