05:19am Friday 06 December 2019

At least one in 10 adults suffers from COPD but mortality rates declining

Fewer individuals are developing COPD – presumably due to reduced smoking in the community, and fewer people with COPD are dying. However, because more people are living longer with the disease, the prevalence of COPD is higher than ever before and this has a large impact on people with COPD, their families and the health system,” says principal investigator and ICES Scientist and respirologist, Dr. Andrea Gershon.


The study of the Ontario population from 1991 to 2007 found: 

  • The age and sex-standardized prevalence increased from 7.8 per cent in 1996 to 9.5 per cent in 2007.
  • The prevalence rose more than twice as much in women compared to men (33.4 per cent in women versus 12.9 per cent in men).
  • The age- and sex-standardized incidence of COPD decreased from 11.8 per 1000 adults in 1996 to 8.5 per 1000 adults in 2007, representing a 28.3 per cent drop in incidence. Greater decreases were seen in men compared to women. This reflects decreases in smoking rates over the last few decades.
  • The age and sex standardized all-cause mortality rate in people with COPD decreased from 5.7 per cent in 1996 to 4.3 per cent in 2007. This decrease was greater in men compared to women.


“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first large scale study to examine COPD prevalence over time and document its upward trend. It is important that we plan services to cope with the needs of the community. Hopefully in the long run we will defeat this disease through smoking prevention programs but right now it is important that we provide optimal care for people with this disease,” says Gershon.


Author affiliations: ICES (A. S. Gershon, T. To, A. S. Wilton); Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (A. S. Gershon); The Hospital for Sick Children (A. S. Gershon, C. Wang, T. To, R. Raut); the Department of Medicine (Gershon) and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (To) University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The study “Trends in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Prevalence, Incidence, and Mortality in Ontario, Canada, 1996 to 2007,” is in the March 22, 2010 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.


More detailed study findings on the ICES website:  www.ices.on.ca


ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.




Deborah Creatura

Media Advisor, ICES


416-480-4780 or cell 647-406-5996


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