ATS 2021: Researchers Project Burden of COPD Will be Worse in 2050, Especially in US

Sydney Jennings

Associate Editor of Patient Care Online

In an abstract being presenting at the upcoming ATS 2021 International Conference, researchers estimate that by 2050 the US will lead the Americas in prevalence of COPD.

In an abstract being presented at the upcoming American Thoracic Society International Conference, to be held virtually May 14-19, 2021, researchers estimate that by 2050 the US will lead the Americas in number of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and prevalence of COPD.

The prevalence of COPD “in the Americas is expected to be on the rise, since important risk factors such as air pollution, vaping, and smoking are increasing in certain regions,” wrote authors. “We sought to estimate the prevalence of COPD in the year 2050 based on current values for these risk factors, recognizing major population growth and aging in the Americas during this time.”

Using publicly available data, researchers used a time-in-state model to generate an estimated count of patients aged ≥25 years with COPD by country, age, sex, and year strata from 2020 to 2050.

Researchers assumed the change in the number of patients with COPD over time was, “a function of the aging of the population and projected population growth,” but assumed no change in COPD risk factors during the study period.

Thirty-six countries in the Americas where COPD data were available were included in the analysis.

The investigators project that there will be more than 65 million persons living with COPD in 2050, which reflects a prevalence of 7.8%of the population aged ≥25 years. From 2020 to 2050, they predict a 75.6% increase in the number of patients with COPD in the Americas, based on aging and population growth.

The authors estimate that by 2050, the US will have the highest projected number of patients with COPD (31.3 million), followed by Brazil (12.3 million), Mexico (5.7 million), Canada (3.3 million), and Colombia (2.9 million).

The US also will have the highest projected prevalence of COPD in 2050 (11.6%), followed by Canada (9.7%), Uruguay (8.9%), Cuba (8.4%), and Puerto Rico (8%).

“We view our estimates as conservative, as we anticipate worsening of COPD risk factors, particularly in developing countries included in the analysis,” authors concluded. “Efforts to address the anticipated rise in burden will require coordinated efforts with advocacy, prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment.”


The abstract, An estimate of the Americas’ prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2050, also appears in the Online Abstracts issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.