A new study, recently presented at CHEST 2012, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), indicates that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) mortality is highest in rural and poor areas. The results, from a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), highlights disparities linked to COPD mortality by state, poverty level, and urban versus rural location.

James B. Holt, PhD, MPA, from the CDC in Atlanta, and his research team report that during the study they assessed the influence of county-level rural-urban status and poverty on COPD mortality. To obtain the study’s results, researchers obtained the 2000-2007 US mortality, population, and 2006 urban-rural categorization data from the National Center for Health Statistics, and county-level poverty data from the US Census. Researchers add that age-specific mortality rates were also calculated. 

The study’s preliminary results suggest that 962,109 total deaths occurred with COPD as the underlying cause in 2000-2007 in the United States. Researchers explain that 87.6% of COPD deaths occurred in individuals less than 65 years old, 11.9% in ages 45 years to 64 years old, and in 0.5% of individuals more than 45 years old. The results suggest that age-specific death rates were 21 and 291 for ages 45 years to 64 years old and less than 65 years old. In state-level COPD death rates ranged from 131 (HawaiI) to 415 (Wyoming) for ages less than 65 years old and from 9 (Hawaii) to 38 (Oklahoma) for ages 45 years to 64 years old. 

The study also spotlighted differences in COPD mortality according to geographic location and poverty level. The lowest mortality was found in large central metro areas and the highest in non-core rural counties, researchers say. Higher mortality rates were also linked to increased poverty for the age group of 45 years old and 64 years old. 

In light of the preliminary results, Darcy D. Marciniuk, MD, FCCP, president-elect of the ACCP, emphasizes that the ACCP has long recognized COPD as a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States and, “through education, research, and communication, the ACCP is dedicated to increasing awareness, prevention, and management of this debilitating condition.”

Source: American College of Chest Physicians