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Elderly people particularly affected: The number of COPD cases has increased enormously
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death worldwide. The disease, which is popularly referred to as smoker's cough or smoker's lung, has not yet been curable. According to a new study, COPD diagnoses in Germany have increased enormously in recent years.
According to a recent study by the Central Institute for Statutory Health Insurance in Germany (Zi), the prevalence of diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) rose from 5.1 percent in 2009 to 6.4 percent in 2016 and remained at the same level in the following year . This corresponds to an increase of 25 percent in eight years.
Higher risk of disease in men
According to a press release from the Zi Supply Atlas, the rising trend affected both women and men. There are significant regional differences in frequency, with regional variation increasing over the years.
The disease primarily affects the elderly. While the diagnosis prevalence in the age group of 40 to 44 year olds was only 1.3 percent in 2017, it was already 14 percent among 85 to 89 year olds. According to the information, a higher risk of illness among men is due, among other things, to smoking behavior and more frequent occupational exposure to pollutants.
Because the disease is age-related and the population in Germany is getting older, it can be assumed that the number of diseases will continue to increase in the coming years. Lower Saxony and Thuringia are particularly affected; The prevalence of diagnosis is highest in individual spatial clusters in these two federal states.
As the Zi explains, the evaluation was based on the nationwide contract medical billing data according to § 295 SGB V for the years 2009 to 2017 with more than 40 million SHI insured persons over 40 years annually.
The most important therapeutic measure is to stop smoking
COPD is a progressive and previously incurable lung disease that manifests itself in typical symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and expectoration. The disease causes a narrowing of the airways (obstruction), which usually increases in the course of the disease.
Smoking is the main risk factor; other risk factors include occupational exposure to pollutants and frequent lower respiratory tract infections in childhood. The disease becomes more important from the age of 40, affects more men than women and requires lifelong therapy.
As the lung information service at the Helmholtz Zentrum München explains on its website, the goals of COPD therapy are:
- To decrease the progression of the disease.
- To improve the physical resilience of those affected.
- Alleviate the symptoms and improve the general health of the patient.
- Prevent and treat exacerbations, complications and comorbidities.
- To maintain the highest possible quality of life.
According to the experts, various medicinal and non-medicinal treatment options are available to achieve this. The most important therapeutic measure is still to stop smoking. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Central institute for health insurance in Germany: Zi study on the diagnosis prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) published in contract medical care, (accessed: August 18, 2019), versorgungsatlas.de
- Lung information service at the Helmholtz Zentrum München: COPD THERAPY, (accessed: August 18, 2019), lungeninformationsdienst.de