What is the worldwide prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Updated: Sep 11, 2020
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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The exact prevalence of COPD worldwide is largely unknown, but estimates have varied from 7-19%. The Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study found a global prevalence of 10.1%. [25] Men were found to have a pooled prevalence of 11.8% and women 8.5%. The numbers vary in different regions of the world. Cape Town, South Africa, has the highest prevalence, affecting 22.2% of men and 16.7% of women.

Hannover, Germany, on the other hand, has the lowest prevalence, of 8.6% for men and 3.7% for women. The differences can be explained in part by site and sex differences in the prevalence of smoking. These reports are widely believed to be underestimates because COPD is known to be underdiagnosed and undertreated. Additionally, the prevalence in women is believed to be increasing.

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