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A Journal on Diseases of the Respiratory System

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Thoracic Endoscopy
Indexed/Abstracted in: EMBASE, Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index




Minerva Pneumologica 2003 September;42(3):67-84

language: Italian

Chronic ostructive pulmonary disease epidemiology

Matteelli G., Scognamiglio A., Pistelli F., S. Baldacci S., Carrozzi L., Viegi G.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a very important cause of morbidity and mortality in industrialized and developing countries. Many epidemiological studies have indicated that COPD is one of the leading cause of death in the world. In 2020 COPD will become the 3rd leading cause of death all over the world.
To date, several risk factors for developing COPD have been studied. They can act either singly or interacting among themselves in a synergistic way. Lifetime cigarette smoking is the most important factor for developing chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Furthermore, environmental conditions, such as air pollution and work exposure, can cause an elevated prevalence of COPD and increase the related mortality. An association between the prevalence of chronic bronchitis and a low socioeconomic status was found in many epidemiological studies. Also a poor nutritional status and excess of alcohol consumption were correlated to the disease. Besides, some genetic factors and familial history can affect the personal risk of developing COPD. COPD is a very important health problem worldwide. Epidemiological studies have been important for the characterization of the disease at a population level, indicating possible factors involved in the pathogenesis of the disease. Reliable and comparable data on COPD are difficult and expensive to collect. Nevertheless, further epidemiological studies are necessary for a better knowledge of morbidity, mortality and pathogenesis of COPD.

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