New Data Analysis Reveals 1.1 Million Californians Diagnosed With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Nov 01, 2012, 09:00 ET from BREATHE California of Los Angeles County

200,000 Live in Los Angeles County, Many are Women and Under 45 Years Old

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As we enter COPD Awareness Month starting November 1, new data shows an estimated 1.1 million Californians, with nearly 200,000 in Los Angeles County, have been diagnosed with COPD, according to the first research of its kind by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research along with Survey Research Group and Public Health Institute (PHI).

"BREATHE LA (BLA) funded the UCLA research to fill a significant gap in the understanding of COPD's impact in California. We now know COPD prevalence in the state is more complex than many people realize," said Enrique Chiock, BLA President and CEO. "Preliminary findings reveal that many people in California diagnosed with COPD have never smoked, are under the age of 45, and are women, providing a striking contrast to the perception that the disease is only a 'smokers' condition affecting men and older people."

For the first time, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, funded by the Centers for Disease Control in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health and PHI, included detailed survey questions about COPD in California, which served as a basis for the UCLA research. Statewide, the actual prevalence of COPD may be twice the 1.1 million people diagnosed, and the number in Los Angeles County is likely double the 200,000 identified in the survey. The socio-demographic and health care access information revealed in the study will enable providers to more precisely focus early detection and treatment programs, to better educate COPD patients about the disease and provide ways to improve their quality of life.

"COPD progressively destroys the lungs and has no cure. Mortality rates continue to rise, yet many people with COPD are undiagnosed or are unaware of the lifestyle changes needed to manage the condition and improve their quality of life," said leading pulmonologist Dr. Guy Soo Hoo, a former BLA Board Chair. "This data gives us hard numbers to show to policymakers and the medical community that we are in the midst of a public health crisis. The cost of COPD to our economy and to our healthcare industry needs to be mitigated through prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment."

According to National Institute of Health findings, despite nearly 140,000 annual COPD deaths, government funding for disease research and programs is dwarfed by funding for other diseases, such as AIDS/HIV. For example, funding for AIDS/HIV research and programs is nearly 30 times greater than that for COPD, even though COPD claims nearly 15 times as many lives each year.

BREATHE LA's advocacy focus is to raise awareness and promote solutions for the COPD crisis. BLA representatives recently discussed the data with Congressman Henry A. Waxman, D-California, a longtime advocate of lung health.

"The increase in COPD is yet another result of tobacco's harmful effects and the dangers of polluted air.  COPD is now the third leading cause of death nationwide. An estimated 12 million Americans are diagnosed with the disease and another 12 million may be affected by the disease but are undiagnosed. Californians, especially those of us from Los Angeles, know firsthand how important it is to have clean air to breathe," Rep. Waxman said. "I will continue my ongoing efforts to address the primary causes of COPD – killer tobacco and dirty air. And, I am encouraged that organizations like BREATHE LA are passionate about doing the same." 

The UCLA report, which will be released later this year, will be important for understanding how COPD is currently diagnosed and treated. For example, preliminary analyses show approximately one-third of those diagnosed with COPD never received a spirometry test, though this is the only approved method for diagnosis.

"COPD remains a significant public health burden. There is still ample room for improvement in adherence to primary prevention and treatment," said Dr. Ying-Ying Meng, lead author of the report and Co-Director, of the Chronic Disease Program at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "Our findings highlight the need to incorporate prevention, early diagnosis and treatment strategies that aim at reducing activity limitations, emergency department visits and mortality due to COPD."

The preliminary data analysis will be discussed as part of BREATHE LA's "Living Well with COPD" Fourth COPD Conference on November 14 (World COPD Awareness Day) in Los Angeles. The Conference will feature presentations on approaches to address the disease, promoting prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and management. For more information about the conference and to register to attend, visit

BREATHE LA is dedicated to clean air and healthy lungs in Los Angeles County. We promote clean air and healthy lungs through research, education, technology and advocacy. Please visit

CONTACT: Robert Gard

Neal Richman
323-935-8050 ext. 231

SOURCE BREATHE California of Los Angeles County