Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

COPD is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

COPD is a long-term condition that causes inflammation in the lungs, damaged lung tissue and a narrowing of the airways. This leads to symptoms such as shortness of breath, a chesty cough and wheeze. It mainly affects people who are middle aged or older. Tobacco smoking is the main risk factor for the disease, but there are also other causes such as workplace exposures and air pollution. There is also increasing evidence that lung damage in early childhood can lead to COPD in later life.

There are many different types of the condition, although little is known about what causes this variation and the best way to manage the different versions of the disease.

“The burden of COPD is still huge – despite known under-reporting of COPD. The figures clearly call for better prevention, not only of smoking. As we learn more about the importance of lung function growth, we must ensure the right for children and adults to breathe clean air and be protected against infections. Our patients also deserve improved management with an incorporation of the latest knowledge on treatment in regional and national guidelines.”
Jørgen Vestbo, Professor of Respiratory Medicine, University of Manchester, UK and Respiratory Theme Lead, NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre

COPD in numbers

in 2019 in the WHO European region

The charts below present data from GBD studies to provide a uniform evaluation of the state of lung health. To find out more about how this data is put together, visit the methodology page. All charts are freely available to download by clicking the three dots in the top right hand corner. Please reference Lung Facts when sharing.

  • Europe: the big picture
  • Incidence rate
  • Incidence numbers
  • Prevalence rate
  • Prevalence numbers
  • Mortality rate
  • Mortality numbers
  • Years of life lost (YLL) rate
  • Years of life lost (YLL) numbers
  • Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) rate
  • Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) numbers
  • Monetised DALYS – societal cost for whole population in international dollars
  • Monetised DALYS – societal cost per 100,000 people in international dollars