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Study Estimates a 23% Increase in COPD by 2050, Representing 600 Million Patients Globally

  • Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, study estimates global COPD burden from 2020 through 2050
  • Study projects disproportionate growth in COPD among women and low-middle income regions

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 07, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ResMed (NYSE: RMD, ASX: RMD) today announced the results of a study on the global burden of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) through 2050. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open, the study found that COPD prevalence among those 25 years and older is expected to increase by 23% from 2020 to 2050, with the largest growth projected among women and within low- and middle-income countries.

According to the World Health Organization, COPD is the third deadliest disease in the world. Today, there are an estimated 480 million people who suffer from COPD. This study in JAMA Network Open projects the increased regional and global burden of COPD by 2050 through an analysis of historical COPD prevalence and data on COPD risk factors such as tobacco smoking, outdoor air pollution, and household air pollution.

The study highlights the disproportionate impacts of COPD anticipated among women and residents of low- and middle-income countries:

  • By 2050, the number of women with COPD is projected to increase by 47% compared to only 9% growth in men
  • Low- and middle-income countries forecast more than a 32% increase in COPD cases, versus nearly a 4% increase in high-income countries from 2020 to 2050
  • Increasing prevalence of COPD in women and low- and middle-income countries is driven by such factors as increases in smoking prevalence and biomass smoke during cooking in poorly ventilated homes

"These numbers are a clear warning that we need to inspire immediate action across industries and geographies to lower the risk factors for COPD while also increasing awareness of the symptoms of this deadly disease,” says Carlos Nunez, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at ResMed. “The disproportionate growth of COPD among women is a critical finding as COPD has not always been as prevalent in women. As a healthcare community we have a responsibility to be more vigilant in screening, testing, and proactively providing COPD education to female patients as well as communities that may not have easy access to this information. Education accompanied by action can have a positive impact by mobilizing people to get diagnosed and treated early.”

COPD is an umbrella term for progressive lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and non-reversible asthma. It primarily arises from prolonged exposure to harmful substances, such as tobacco smoke, elevating the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, and various other health complications. Secondary causes include childhood respiratory infections and chronic exposure to air pollution, dust, and chemicals. COPD comprises two prevalent conditions: chronic bronchitis, characterized by inflamed bronchial tube linings causing daily cough and mucus production, and emphysema, where air sacs at the end of small lung air passages deteriorate due to exposure to harmful substances such as cigarette smoke.

Recognizable symptoms of COPD include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Chronic cough that may produce mucus
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Lack of energy
  • Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
  • Swelling in ankles, feet, or legs

Although COPD is progressive, it is treatable, and proper management and early intervention can provide symptom control, improved quality of life, and reduced risk of associated health problems.

“When you can’t breathe, it’s the scariest thing ever,” says Lisa Hall, who was diagnosed with COPD eight years ago and for over three years has been using a digital therapy solution by ResMed. “While I know I will always be a little out of breath every day, it’s not as bad as it would be if I weren’t on therapy today. Now that I can manage my COPD, I have the energy to take my grandkids to the park.”

While there is currently no cure for COPD, there are both non-invasive and surgical treatment options available, including medication, exercise, oxygen therapy, and ventilation. ResMed provides Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) and other mechanical ventilation solutions tailored to the needs of COPD patients, whether in a hospital or home setting. These interventions can enhance the patient's quality of life and reduce the frequency of hospital visits and the risk of death.

To read the full study, see the publication in JAMA Network Open.

About ResMed
At ResMed (NYSE: RMD, ASX: RMD), we pioneer innovative solutions that treat and keep people out of the hospital, empowering them to live healthier, higher-quality lives. Our digital health technologies and cloud-connected medical devices transform care for people with sleep apnea, COPD, and other chronic diseases. Our comprehensive out-of-hospital software platforms support the professionals and caregivers who help people stay healthy in the home or care setting of their choice. By enabling better care, we improve quality of life, reduce the impact of chronic disease, and lower costs for consumers and healthcare systems in more than 140 countries. To learn more, visit and follow @ResMed.

Rowena Kelley
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