More women dying from COPD
Swedish Radio News reports that more and more women here are dying from the lung disease Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
More than half a million Swedes suffer from COPD, and around 3000 die every year from the disease. Most are women. According to a new report from the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, the number of deaths among women from COPD last year was 74 percent higher than it was 15 years ago.
That increase is only among women. In fact, the number of men dying from the disease over the same period dropped by half a percent.
Kjell Larsson is vice president of the Heart-Lung Foundation’s research council. He tells Swedish Radio News that since the year 2000 visits to their lung clinics have been dominated by women patients. "It’s the women," he says, "who are being treated for the disease nowadays."
COPD has been described as sort of a permanent pneumonia. While it is possible the increased figures may be because doctors are more aware of the disease now, and make the proper diagnosis, experts say a more likely cause is because women here began smoking more in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, and that is what is showing up now. Another reason might be because women have smaller lungs than men.
Kjell Larsson says the problem is serious. And he says it will get much worse if the trend is not broken.
One of those women patients is 67 year Kicki Narbom, from Sundyberg, a northern suburb of Stockholm. She says that if gets stressed she has a hard time breathing, especially when it is cold and humid.
When Kicki first sought help for her breathing problems she was toldshe had asthma, a common early diagnosis for suffers of COPD. But during the cold winter of 2006 her condition became much worse, and new tests revealed that she was actually suffering from COPD.
Like many others with the condition, Kicki started smoking early.
"I started young," she says, "because it was very in to be a smoker then. You had no idea you could get sick from cigarettes."
The Heart-Lung Foundations says that more than half a million Swedes have COPD, but most don’t even know they have it. By the time they get a diagnosis, it may be too late. In releasing its new report, the foundation is also launching a campaign for more research funding, to investigate why some people get the disease and others don’t.