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Who Is at Risk for COPD?

The main risk factor for COPD is smoking. Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. People who have a family history of COPD are more likely to develop the disease if they smoke.

Long-term exposure to other lung irritants also is a risk factor for COPD. Examples of other lung irritants include secondhand smoke, air pollution, and chemical fumes and dust from the environment or workplace. (Secondhand smoke is smoke in the air from other people smoking.)

Most people who have COPD are at least 40 years old when symptoms begin. Although uncommon, people younger than 40 can have COPD. For example, this may happen if a person has alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic condition.

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What is COPD?

COPD Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for COPD, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.


COPD in the News

May 18, 2014
NIH-funded studies find statins provide no benefit to COPD, ARDS outcomes
Statin therapy does not prevent exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lower mortality from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), report two studies that rigorously tested the benefit of the cholesterol-lowering drugs on outcomes in the lung diseases.

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July 31, 2013 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.