Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a preventable and progressive lung disease that is often coupled or associated with a number of other diseases including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. It is characterized by a persistent expiratory flow limitation (meaning it’s hard to exhale) that is not fully reversible. This results in exercise limitation in individuals with COPD and an often associated fear of exercise as it leads to a sensation of not being able to breathe.
Currently, COPD is the 3rd leading cause of death in the world behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. This would look like 16 million people being diagnosed with COPD in the United States with many more likely having the disease, but not being accurately diagnosed. This leads to approximately 150,000 deaths per year in the US.
Asthma is a lung disease characterized by airway inflammation and a resultant airflow limitation that results in exercise limitation. However, asthma differs from COPD in that the symptoms resolve with time or upon administration of bronchodilator medications. The development of asthma is typically attributed to respiratory infection from airborne particulate matter or pollution resulting in a hyperresponsive immune response. Typically symptoms are exacerbated by exercise or changes in weather. Asthma affects 300 million people worldwide and up to 18% of a countries population with annual increases of approximately 5% again contributing to the high incidence of respiratory disease worldwide.