Almost Half of People with COPD, Asthma Continue to Smoke: Report

You’d think that a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis would convince smokers to give up the habit. But a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that almost half of adults age 40 and over with COPD or asthma continue to smoke.

Like asthma, COPD can make breathing very difficult. It’s a progressive illness often caused by smoking that can involve chronic bronchitis and emphysema. As you’d expect, physicians recommend anyone diagnosed with COPD immediately quit smoking.

But that only happens in roughly half of all cases involving adults over age 40, the CDC says. The study is based on an examination of data collected by the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Survey between 2007 and 2012. Specifically, the study showed that 46 per cent of adults aged 40 to 79 suffering from a lung-obstructing illness continued to smoke. Remarkably, in “moderate or worse” cases, 55 percent of patients continued to smoke.

CDC researchers found little difference between men and women though said that more educated people were less likely to continue smoking after receiving a COPD or asthma diagnosis.

Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y., says it’s important to remember how difficult quitting smoking can be — even after a COPD diagnosis.

“Approximately 40 percent of those with COPD experience high levels of depression and anxiety, making it more difficult to comply with treatment and quitting smoking,” Folan said. “What works best to help patients with COPD quit smoking is treatment for their depression.”

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