Why Are Women More at Risk for Developing COPD Than Men?

March 1, 2018

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It is a progressive disease which means it gets worse over time. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, and chronic cough. COPD is caused by long-term exposure to irritants that damage the lungs, the frontrunner being cigarette smoke. Substances like air pollution, dust, and chemical fumes can also be causes.

Historically, COPD has been considered a disease contained to white men. This is because they started smoking earlier and tended to smoke at much higher rates than other groups. Although, this stigma is changing and shocking statistics from the American Lung Association support this change. The ALA estimates that there are 7 million women diagnosed with COPD and even more living with symptoms that are undiagnosed. Since the 1980s the number of women whose lives have been lost as a result of COPD has quadrupled. So why are females becoming increasingly diagnosed?

Women are more genetically prone to developing COPD than men, and they are likely to experience more intense symptoms. A woman’s body is different than a man’s in that women have narrower airways and smaller lungs, making irritants more toxic when inhaled.

Women are now 37% more likely to develop COPD than their male counterparts. Many women began smoking in the 1970s and 1980s and COPD symptoms generally take 20-30 years to develop. Many experts believe that this influx is due to marketing done by tobacco companies.

So, what can women do? Stop smoking, today. According to the CDC, after just two hours of not smoking your heart rate and blood pressure should return to almost completely normal levels. Between one and nine months after quitting smoking, your lungs dramatically begin to repair themselves. After 10 years, your risk of lung cancer, throat cancer, and other major organs decreases by approximately half that of a traditional smoker.

If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, you’re not out of options. If you or a loved one is currently struggling to manage symptoms associated with COPD, ActivMed is enrolling in studies for those seeking new treatment options. Qualified candidates who participate will receive study-related care at no cost and receive compensation for travel. To learn more and see how you or someone you love may qualify for a study at our Portsmouth, NH location CLICK HERE or at our Methuen, MA location by CLICKING HERE.

Our blog provides general information about health and related subjects. This content should not be interpreted as medical advice.

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