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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Causes

Info: 1290 words (5 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 11th Feb 2020

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Tagged: COPD

  • Herla Dorvil

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one of many public health issues America faces. It is among the leading causes of death in the United States. It is affects more Americans just as any other disease. People with COPD are impacted where it can affect daily living. Due to the destruction of the alveoli in lungs, more individuals are requiring hospitalization frequently. Many people are diagnosed with COPD each year. COPD is a group of chronic pulmonary diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema that impair air flow to the lungs causing difficulty in breathing. According to (Chen et al., 2013), the World Health Organization has reported approximately 5/100 deaths worldwide due to COPD. Although COPD is a huge issue in public health, still many are unaware of the risk factors, target population it affects and the impact this creates in someone’s life.

There are many ways that people can develop COPD. COPD occurs mostly in current or former smokers. Cigarette smoking and long-term exposures irritates and damage the lungs. “Cigarette smoke causes progressive destruction of the lung tissue, resulting in irreversible narrowing and scarring of the airways and loss of the alveolar interface where gas exchange takes place.” (Barnes et al., 2011, p. 612) Environmental factors such as air pollution, dust particles, and chemicals are also detrimental to one getting COPD. People who work around chemicals for a long time are at risk to damaging their lungs. The chemicals that are inhaled from the work environment and air pollution causes serious affects to the lungs. Breathing in secondhand smoke also poses a risk because they are around it all the time. People are most likely to develop COPD after being around family members who smoke or have a history of smoking. Another factor is the heredity of alpha one antitrypsin deficiency. An absence of alpha one antitrypsin increases your risk for lung disease. The lungs are protected by this protein and it is produced in the liver. It protects the body from unwanted effects from other proteins that cause harm to different organs of the body (Cox, 2011). Some patients that have asthma are usually categorized under chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. It affects the lungs by narrowing the airways and making it hard for one to breathe and usually have to take maintenance drugs if necessary. Common symptoms that are seen with COPD are chronic cough, increase in sputum production, chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath. People with COPD usually have exacerbations, which is when their condition becomes worst over time.

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COPD is more common in older age groups and is said to be prevalent in women. People who get COPD are usually 18 years and older. Sometimes individuals are unaware that they have COPD until later in life after it progresses and they start developing symptoms. Studies say that women are twice as likely as men to get COPD. Although COPD affects all ages and mostly older age, the prevalence is high among adults less than 65 years old (Barnes et al., 2011). Due to under diagnosis the amount of people who have COPD may be higher. Many people don’t go to get regular check-ups and don’t have the money to do so, therefore they go a long time without noticing symptoms and end up finding out when it exacerbates.

COPD is a chronic progressive disease that affects the pulmonary system creating a huge burden on one’s life depending on the severity. Some patients with COPD experience weight loss skeletal muscle dysfunction and it makes it difficult to perform daily living activities as well as physical activities. The disease can cause one to experience shortness of breath with any type of movement. Kulich, Molen, Polkey, Rabinovich, Troosters, & Vogiatzis (2013) emphasizes that the lack of physical activity contributes to the progression of the disease and creating poor outcomes. It is marked as reasons for mortality in hospitalized stations for many individuals. When physical activity is increased, it produces better outcomes for the patient. As the disease progresses individuals are frequently hospitalized, thus creating increased debt and healthcare expenditures. According to Chen et al. (2013), the average amount of medical expenses for a COPD patient is estimated at $27,656 per year, which is four times higher than the average cost for patients without the disease. The individual has to constantly buy medication and it also creates problems at home where it interferes with their economic stability. It causes one to become unstable and unable to pay their bills and incompetent to take care of their selves which then leads them into depression. “In individuals with COPD, depression is significantly associated with decreased functional status; impair quality of life and disease progression and mortality.” (Das, Negi, Pandey , Raval, & Sarkar, 2014 p.403) Due to the clinical depression, patients may not be in compliance with their management programs such as taking their medications, attending smoking cessation programs and pulmonary rehabilitation. By not taking these measures it leads to poor clinical outcomes and patients tend to relapse. COPD Individuals with depression cause higher financial problems for themselves. Das et al (2014) also showed that the occupational status of a person showed an association with the presence of depression which develop into mood disorders. Not only is there an economic burden and depression, it also triggers other illnesses that will generate further complications (Chen et al., 2013). Some people later get peripheral artery disease, stroke and lung cancer. The impact of COPD can causes people to completely stop working because of the severity and the complications it produces.

An understanding of the chronic disease complexity can help improve the quality of life for those individuals living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Recognizing the impact of COPD may help the population to better identify, to get proper treatment and to reduce severity and exacerbations. The population of young, older men and women has to be educated and be made aware of the risk factors and importance of preventing the disease progress for a better and an improvement in life expectancy.


Chen, P., Livneh, H., Lu, M., Sung, F., & Tsai, T. (2013). Increase risk and related factors of depression among patients with COPD: A population-based cohort study. BMC Public Health, 13. doi: 10.11.1186/1471-2458-13-976

Coz, L.A. (2011). A casual model of obstruction pulmonary disease risk. Risk Analysis, 31(1), 38-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2010.01487

Barnes, N., Buist, S., Fishwick, J., Fletcher, M., Hutton, J., Jones, P., & Walsh, J. (2011). COPD uncovered: an international survey on the impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on a working population. BMC Public Health, 11(1). doi: 612.62410.1186/1471-2458-11-612

Das, P., Negi, H., Pandey, K., Raval, A., & Sakar, M. (2014). Presence of depression and its risk factors in patients with chronic obstruction pulmonary disease. The Indian Journal of Medical Research, 139(3), 402-408. Retrieved from http.www.ebcohost.com

Kulich, K., Molen, T., Polkey, M., Rabinovich, R., Troosters, T., & Vogiatzis, I. (2013). Improving physical activity in COPD: Towards a new paradigm. Respiratory Research, 14(1),115. doi:10.1186/1465-9921-14-115


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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a group of chronic and progressive respiratory disorders that are characterized by an airway obstruction with little or no reversibility. Damage to the lungs continues to make breathing gradually more difficult over time.

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