PRESS RELEASE  – For Immediate Release

Celebrating World COPD Day,  the European Institute of Women’s Health  highlights

it’s not too late to improve respiratory health in Europe

Since 2002,  World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day raises awareness and works to improve care of COPD through events and campaigns in over 50 countries on the 18th of November.

Supporting this year’s theme,  “It’s Not Too Late,” the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) is drawing attention to the steps all people in  Europe can take to improve COPD prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

What is it?

COPD is a term used for various chronic lung diseases that cause difficulty breathing and airflow obstruction, including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.

Who it effects?

COPD affects about 64 million people globally accounting for about 5% or 3 million deaths worldwide, and is the 5th highest cause of death in the world.  Nearly 90% of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries.  Almost half of people living with COPD don’t know they have it.

Between 4% and 10% of adults suffer from COPD in Europe.  In the last 20 years,COPD death increased by sixty-percent accounting for about 270,000 deaths in Europe in 2005 and  expected to reach 338,000 deaths by 2030.

COPD is not only debilitating for patients and their families, it is costly to all EU health care systems accounting for €4.7 billion in outpatient expenses and €2.9 billion in pharmaceutical expenditure each year.

COPD increasingly affects women and their families across the European Union (EU).  Historically, COPD has affected men more than women.  However it now affects EU men and women equally, because of the increasing rates of smoking amongst women.

Diagnosing COPD correctly in women can be challenging as the symptoms can often overlap with allergies or asthma,  and symptoms of COPD are also sometimes ignored.

Women with COPD are more likely than men to have shortness of breath and diminished airway sensitivity.

Women are also more likely to suffer from the emotional impact of COPD than men, with elevated rates of coexisting conditions like anxiety and/or depression.

Yet  women are generally diagnosed with COPD at later stages than men.

The primary cause of COPD, tobacco smoking, is highly preventable.  Alarmingly, women, particularly young girls, are increasingly smoking and vaping throughout the EU.  Recent studies suggest women are more vulnerable to developing COPD from smoking than are men.  Female smokers also have a higher rates of severe COPD and develop it later in life than male smokers.

As a result, women see greater benefit than do men from smoking cessation.

Concerted efforts must be made to reverse the alarming trend of smoking among women and young girls in EU to prevent COPD and other chronic diseases. Research must be funded to better understand the differences of COPD prevention, diagnosis and treatment between women and men.

We all must work together to develop comprehensive strategies for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COPD including gender sensitive guidelines for health professionals.

For more information, please contact:
The European Institute of Women’s Health, +353 86 822 5576,

Or please visit:


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