A change in disease burden
COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Although the overall financial burden of COPD has yet to be determined, the total economic cost of COPD is expected to be $49.9 billion by 2010. This includes $29.5 billion in direct health-care expenditures and $20.4 billion in indirect costs.1
A change in perception
A wide perception persists that COPD is a disease of the elderly, especially elderly men.2 In reality, COPD affects both men and women, many of whom are of working age.3 The typical patient with COPD resembles any chronic smoker aged 40 years or older. Many of these patients will be in their late 40s to 50s and still working full time. Many patients will continue to do all or most of their typical activities but find they limit exercise or exertion. They have often recently complained of recurrent episodes of prolonged or severe colds or chest colds. However, when speaking with clinicians, they may say they are fine and attribute their symptoms to increasing age or lack of physical fitness.