Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will become the most common form of death in Iceland in just a few years’ time, research suggests.
Dóra Lúðvíksdóttir, a pulmonary specialist, wrote an article for Fréttablaðið in which she reported that up to 20,000 Icelanders could be suffering from COPD without even knowing it. Most of those afflicted are smokers, although there are some instances attributed to profession, pollution, or genetic factors.
More troubling, the incidence of the disease appears to be growing. In a study conducted in 2007, 27% of participants showed symptoms of some stage of COPD, although very few were even aware they might have the disease.
Despite these startling figures, it should be had in mind that research also shows up to 75% of Europeans as a whole (.pdf file) believed to be undiagnosed with COPD.
Nonetheless, by all projections, COPD could be the most likely cause of death in Iceland by as early as 2020.
Dóra says that treating lung disease consumes the largest portion of medication costs in the health care system. She encourages all who smoke or have smoked to have themselves screened for the illness, and of course, to quit smoking.