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The Prevalence of COPD

Written by: Vester Gravley on Friday, November 20, 2015 Posted in:

November is COPD Awareness month. My next few entries reflect some increases in my own awareness. I offer them for your serious consideration and response.

My first insight is that, based on mortality rates, COPD prevails as a rural disease. Research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that the COPD death rate is lowest in large urban areas and highest in rural areas. A blog posted by lunginstitute.com entitled, “Where Exactly is COPD?,” cites several potential reasons for high rural COPD rates, including higher smoking rates, lower education levels and lack of health insurance. The blog post provides the following list of areas where these factors are most prevalent:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas/ Along the Mississippi River in Arkansas and Southern Missouri
  • Central Alaska
  • Kentucky
  • Nevada/South-central Nevada
  • Oklahoma/Southeastern Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

This composite list comports with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, as compiled by 24/7wallst.com, which indicates that many of these states top the list of poorest states in America. And the CDC corresponds: “Many factors contribute to the differences in COPD mortality [between urban and rural areas], including smoking prevalence, air quality and access to health care,” said CDC researcher James Holt, as quoted by HealthDay. “People with COPD who live in rural or poor areas have an even greater disadvantage …”  COPD, the third leading cause of death in America, certainly affects people of all places and social strata, but by the numbers, it is ravaging the rural poor.  The skeleton in the cupboard may be that the leading cause of death by COPD is poverty.  More on that next time.