Global COPD Cases Now Top More Than 480 Million

A New ResMed study outpaces previous estimates and says that the number should reach an estimated 592 million by 2050 if current risk factor trends continue.

More than 480 million people around the world suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), making it the world’s third most deadly disease, according to a study led by ResMed.

The figure was presented at the recent European Respiratory Society Congress in Barcelona, Spain, held Sept. 4-6. ResMed’s analysis combined known cases of COPD plus likely cases based on known risk factors, such as smoking and other indoor and outdoor air pollution.

The new population figure is 22 percent to 126 percent higher than previous COPD population estimates that range from 212 million to 392 million cases.

“This number should be a warning,” said study co-author and ResMed Chief Medical Officer Carlos M. Nunez, M.D. “It should urge doctors to be more vigilant in screening and testing, since early treatment can enhance quality of life and longevity; urge people and their loved ones to learn and spot symptoms early; urge payers to help everyone take these proactive steps; and frankly inspire stronger, more immediate action to lower risk factors for COPD like smoking and air pollution.”

Moreover, researchers expect that the global population of COPD sufferers will reach an estimated 592 million by 2050 if current risk factor trends continue.

“In less than a generation, we’re headed north of 600 million cases globally,” Nunez continued. “But we can curb that number and help save millions of lives with education and meaningful action.”

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher HME Business, DME Pharmacy and Mobility Management magazines. He was Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy from 2008 to 2023. Follow him on LinkedIn at and on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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