Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the term used to describe a group of lung conditions—most commonly emphysema and chronic bronchitis—that cause increasing breathlessness over time.
COPD affects approximately 30 million people in the United States alone, and is the third leading cause of death. As there is currently no known cure for the disease, it’s important to be mindful of the risk factors in order to do what you can to prevent it from developing. Here are the six most common.
Smoking is the primary risk factor for developing COPD. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Up to 75 percent of people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke.” WebMD adds that the risk of developing COPD “increases with both the amount of tobacco you smoke each day and the number of years you have smoked.”
Exposure to secondhand smoke is also a concern. Although it has not yet proven to lead to COPD, WebMD says “people who are exposed to secondhand smoke for a long time are more likely to have breathing problems and respiratory diseases.”