COPD: A ‘man’s disease,’ now most common among womenCOPD: A ‘Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), is an emerging health issue for women that was once thought of as a man's disease.
By: By Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
COPD: A ‘Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), is an emerging health issue for women that was once thought of as a man's disease.
The disease is a progressive lung condition linked to smoking.
Women have surpassed men in rates of COPD. A report by the American Lung Association says since the year 2000, more women get the disease and die from it than men.
Steven Brown is a physician at the Lung Center of Milwaukee. He says women who started smoking in the ’60s are having early signs of COPD: chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
“Women are more likely to develop COPD because their lungs are smaller than those of men,” he said. “The same of pack of cigarettes that you smoke in one day is divided out in much smaller volume in women who are smoking than men who are smoking, so it’s more concentrated — and over the years that's going to take a bigger toll”
Brown says 90 percent of COPD cases are caused by smoking; air pollution and second-hand smoke are lesser factors. In addition, there are rare genetic disorders linked to COPD. Brown says misdiagnosis happens more often in women than men who complain of shortness of breath.
“A doctor is much more likely to diagnose a woman with asthma and a man with COPD, given all circumstances [are] identical except for sex,” he said.
The American Lung Association says in Wisconsin, there are 128,000 women who have COPD.