One of the biggest myths out there about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is about its frequency, with some people potentially assuming that it's rarer than it actually is. However, it's vital to know that COPD is not only pretty common but is one of the foremost causes of death both across the globe and in the U.S. (per Medical News Today).
In America, COPD is fourth-highest on the conditions that cause mortality, and there are approximately 16 million people who have a confirmed case of the disease, says pulmonologist and critical care medicine specialist Thomas Yadegar via Medical News Today. The condition causes over 150,000 deaths annually in the U.S., says the CDC, and millions of people die from the disease worldwide every year, with over 3.2 million deaths in 2019 (per the WHO).
In the same year, more than 210 million cases of COPD were reported across the globe, according to research published in BMJ, and there may be way more than that. "Millions more people may be undiagnosed," particularly in the U.S., states Yadegar, with people living with the symptoms of COPD without realizing they have it (via Medical News Today). That's why it's vital to speak with your doctor if you experience any of the classic symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, and a persistent cough that produces phlegm.