SAINT PAUL, Minn., Feb. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The nation's fourth leading cause of death, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is now being measured by the Minnesota Department of Health's Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. The program focuses on three major causes of hospitalizations in Minnesota that can be triggered or made worse by environmental factors such as secondhand smoke or outdoor air pollution — asthma, heart attacks and COPD.
The report indicates that 3.4 percent of adult Minnesotans report having COPD, among those 65 or older the rate is much higher, 7.4 percent. For seniors 85 or older, COPD is even more common, as hospitalizations for the chronic lung disease has nearly tripled between 1996 and 2007. This trend in Minnesota mirrors national statistics, although the state's age-adjusted mortality rates for adults 45 years and older per 100,000 population is lower (78.4 percent) than the national average (88.5 percent).
Minnesota's lower death rates for COPD may be a result of the state's excellent health facilities, higher than average health insurance coverage, and a focus on the lung disease not found in other states. Minnesota is one of the few states to track COPD statewide with the Minnesota Behavioral Risk Factor Survey System. It also was one of the first states with a coalition of caregivers and research focused on COPD. In 2008, the Minnesota COPD Coalition and the American Lung Association in Minnesota issued a joint report that for the first time looked at the scope and cost of COPD in the state. Among the key findings:
- In 2006, 1,760 Minnesotans aged 45 and older died of COPD
- From 1996 to 2007, emergency department visits due to COPD increased 250 percent
- While males have a higher rate of death due to COPD, females are quickly closing the gap
- The average cost of hospitalization for COPD is high: $18,975, excluding professional fees.
"We applaud, loudly, MDH's inclusion of COPD in their tracking program and anticipate more people hearing about this quiet killer of five Minnesotans daily," said Al Heaton, PharmD, pharmacy director at UCare and chair the American Lung Association's Minnesota COPD Coalition.
Links to websites:
SOURCE American Lung Association of Minnesota