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Smoking and Tobacco

COPD prevalance in elderly populations

05/27/1998

Question:

I am trying to obtain information on COPD prevelance in an elderly population (esp. 70+ y.o.'s). I need this statistic to fight an insurance denial for a family member. I have the folling information from the "Biology of Aging", 1972, re: Emphysema, "This is primarily a disease of later life and is definitely related to age. Liebow (1964) has shown that among persons 40 to 50 uears old, 24% showed no signs of emphysema, 30% showed slight signs, and 30% showed marked evidence of the disease. Among people aged 90 or over, 64% showed marked signs and the remaining 36 % showed some signs of this disease." What I am looking for is a prevalance rate for a 70 y.o. population of COPD or Emphysema? Thank you.

Answer:

Approximately 90% of emphysema is caused by cigarette smoking. All forms of emphysema tend to worsen with time and age. Factors such as genetics, general health and nutrition, air pollution, toxic exposures, and cigarette smoking will affect the rate at which the condition worsens. Because it would be difficult to determine which, if any or all of the above factors are causing the deterioration, it is not possible to determine a specific prevalence rate for a specific age group. It may be possible to determine the prevalence for a specific subset of emphysema, but a search of the Internet was not helpful in answering your question.

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Response by:

Margaret C Sweeney, MD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati