About COPD

What is COPD?

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Respiratory Disease (COPD) is a group of diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and non-reversible asthma. It is characterized by airflow limitations and persistent respiratory symptoms including breathlessness, coughing up mucus (phlegm), fatigue and frequent respiratory symptom flare ups called exacerbations.

COPD is not fully reversible and tends to worsen over time. COPD casts an appalling spectre over the lives of people living with the disease, significantly affecting their autonomy and quality of life.

In the last decades, COPD has climbed from fifth, to fourth, and will soon take third place as a leading cause of death in Canada. Worse, COPD can help other deadly diseases take hold, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. If already rooted, COPD will accelerate their development.

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Respiratory Disease (COPD) is a group of diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and non-reversible asthma. It is characterized by airflow limitations and persistent respiratory symptoms including breathlessness, coughing up mucus (phlegm), fatigue and frequent respiratory symptom flare ups called exacerbations.

COPD is not fully reversible and tends to worsen over time. COPD casts an appalling spectre over the lives of people living with the disease, significantly affecting their autonomy and quality of life.

In the last decades, COPD has climbed from fifth, to fourth, and will soon take third place as a leading cause of death in Canada. Worse, COPD can help other deadly diseases take hold, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. If already rooted, COPD will accelerate their development.

COPD Characteristics

COPD includes two major breathing diseases that have more resonance in the public domain:

Obstructive Chronic Bronchitis

The chronic bronchitis part of COPD makes your airways inflamed, i.e., red, swollen and irritated. The damage to the airways and the glands in your airways which make extra mucus (phlegm), blocks some air from passing through. This makes you cough, spit up mucus, and feel short of breath.

Emphysema

The emphysema part of COPD from inflammation in the lung tissue damages the tiny air sacs (alveoli) at the tips of your airways. Normally these air sacs are stretchy, like balloons – they stretch out as you breathe in and shrink as you breathe out. But emphysema makes your air sacs stiff. They can’t stretch anymore, so air gets trapped inside them. This makes it hard for you to take in air and it makes you feel tired.

Prevalence

In Canada, 2 million people are living with COPD, a major cause of disability and one of the leading causes of death.

COPD is the only chronic disease with increasing mortality.

COPD is the #1 cause of hospital admission and re-admission among major chronic illnesses in the country.

Causes

Smoking cigarettes is the main cause of COPD in 80 – 90 % of cases.

Other things that can cause COPD are:

  • A rare genetic disorder called
    Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • Second-hand smoke
  • Air pollution (dust or chemicals)
  • Having repeated lung infections as a child
  • A rare genetic disorder called
    Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • Second-hand smoke
  • Air pollution (dust or chemicals)
  • Having repeated lung infections as a child

3rd

leading cause of death
worldwide

1st

cause of hospitalization
in Canada

$4billion

in direct and indirect
costs annually in Canada

Why more research is needed?

Research is essential for understanding the causes of a disease, the factors that influence the disease evolution and on which we can intervene, the ways we can improve the treatments and the way the health care system can optimize service delivery.

In particular, one type of research that we need more is a cohort study i.e., following a group of individuals with a specific condition and at risk for this condition over a period of many years, the best way we can learn about:

Characterization of men and women at risk and those with early disease, and the complications

Perception and disease evolution

Developing a framework to combat more efficiently this major health problem

Better understand which factors modifiable through health interventions are related to health

This will be possible through the nationwide study, the Canadian Cohort Obstructive Lung disease (CanCOLD).

Our Financial Partners