Utah has low COPD rate, but governor urges awareness
Public health • Most surveyed Utahs with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease said it harmed their quality of life.
Published: November 29, 2012 02:30PM
Updated: November 29, 2012 04:40PM

Utah has one of the nation’s lowest percentages of residents with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a group of debilitating respiratory conditions, according to a new national report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its first report on state prevalence of COPD among adults in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, based on new survey questions in the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

Among the surveyed Utahns, 4.2 percent reported they had been diagnosed by a physician with COPD. Nationally, 6.3 percent of adults reported having a diagnosis; area rates ranged from as low as 3.1 percent in Puerto Rico to as high as 9.3 percent in Kentucky.

In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert declared November as an awareness month for both COPD and Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, a rare genetic condition that can lead patients to develop COPD.

Although there is no cure for COPD, increased awareness, early detection and care can reduce costs and improve the quality of life for Utahns with the condition, Herbert said.

In the BRFSS survey, 70.3 percent of the Utahns with COPD said it had affected their quality of life. Half had seen a doctor for their symptoms in the preceding year.

COPD often is associated with a history of cigarette smoking, and with a history of asthma, the CDC noted. Among the 39,038 survey respondents nationwide, 36.4 percent were former smokers, 38.7 percent were current smokers, and 43.7 percent had a history of asthma.

It is the primary contributor to deaths caused by chronic lower respiratory diseases, which became the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2008, the CDC noted.

Herbert’s proclamation noted outreach efforts by National Heart Lung Blood Institute — such as its Learn More Breathe Better campaign —and DRIVE4COPD by the COPD Foundation, which also offers a screening page.

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of progressive, debilitating respiratory conditions, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, characterized by difficulty breathing, lung airflow limitations, cough, and other symptoms.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention