European COPD Coalition

Key facts

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a life-threatening lung disease that interferes with normal breathing – it is more than a “smoker’s cough”.
  • An estimated 64 million(*) people had COPD worldwide in 2004.
  • More than 3 million people died of COPD in 2005, which is equal to 5% of all deaths globally that year.
  • Almost 90% of COPD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • The number of deaths from COPD has increased more than 60% over the last 20 years.

COPD is the only major cause of death whose incidence is on the increase and is expected to be the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030 (exceeded only by heart diseases and stroke).

  • The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoke (through tobacco use or second-hand smoke).
  • In Europe 4-10% of adults have COPD.
  • The total COPD related expenses for outpatient care (= not in hospital) in the EU is approximately € 4,7 billion per year
  • Inpatient care (=in hospital) generates costs of €2,9 billion followed by expenses in pharmaceutical of 2,7 billion per year
  • The disease now affects men and women almost equally, due in part to increased tobacco use among women in high-income countries.
  • Total deaths from COPD are projected to increase by more than 30% in the next 10 years without interventions to cut risks, particularly exposure to tobacco smoke.
  • COPD is the 5th biggest killer  worldwide. Every hour COPD is estimated to kill over 250 people worldwide.

It is time to act now!


(*) From WHO, COPD Fact sheet N°315, February 2011

Other sources: ERS Lung White Book, ERS Respiratory Roadmap, EFA

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