COPD is more common in older people, especially those aged 65 years and older. The prevalence of COPD in the US is estimated at 14%.[7] COPD prevalence is highest in the World Health Organization region of the Americas and lowest in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions. The pooled global prevalence is 15.7% in men and 9.93% in women.[8]

Deaths from COPD have increased by 23% since 1990 and COPD is projected to be the third leading cause of death in the world in 2020.[1][9][10] This is because of the expanding epidemic of smoking and aging of the world population and reduced mortality from other causes of death such as cardiovascular disease.[1][11] Mortality rates in men exceed mortality rates in women.[10]

An international study reported that the prevalence of COPD in never-smokers is 12.2%.[12] This may be due to air pollution or indoor burning of solid fuels in low and middle income countries. In the US, the prevalence of COPD in never-smokers is 2.2%. Many of these cases are attributed to workplace exposures.[13]

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