On November 21st, the nation got a look at COPD data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). BRFSS - the nation's largest telephone public health survey -included questions regarding chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for the very first time in 2011, which will give the public health system state-specific data to understand how best to tackle COPD.
The MMWR data shows that COPD's impact is severe, with some US states showing much higher prevalence than others. Nationally, 6.3% of BRFSS respondents reported a diagnosis of COPD, but the prevalence ranged from a high of 9.3% in Kentucky and 9.1% in Alabama, and a low of 3.1% in Puerto Rico and 3.9% in Minnesota and Washington. The MMWR also showed that many of the high prevalence states were located in the southern part of the U.S. showcasing the need for targeted COPD surveillance, prevention, awareness, and education efforts in the area.
The MMWR demonstrates that COPD is an important public health problem, and includes a number of trends worth noting:
There is no cure for COPD, but early diagnosis and current treatments can improve the quality of life for millions of Americans and save billions in preventable healthcare expenditures. (More than 12 million people have been diagnosed with COPD in the United States, and about 3 percent of them are predicted to have Alpha-1. Despite being a major public health issue, COPD research still receives substantially less research funding than other diseases. An increase in funding for COPD research could help develop early diagnosis strategies, new treatment regimens, and improved disease management programs.