New data shows Maine is among the states with the highest rates of COPD

Published: Oct. 18, 2023 at 6:24 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - New data from the American Lung Association shows that Maine has a higher rate of COPD most other states.

“You focus on every state in the country but there are 11 that are a higher incident standpoint. So, the national average of individuals with COPD, the prevalence is about 5%. Maine is at about 9%,” said Dr. Amit “Bobby” Mahajan, national spokesperson for the American Lung Association.

The data shows that this is largely driven by smoking.

“Our hope is that the general trajectory will be towards improving and reducing the actual exposure to cigarette smoke. Our hope with knowledge and understanding of the disease process in the near future will continue to have the rates go down, but we are seeing a reduction in smoking overall from a national standpoint. Our hope is that it continues to move in that direction. So, COPD becomes much less prevalent in the country,” Mahajan said.

While cigarette smoking is on the decline as a whole, other concerning trends are emerging.

“I think people have this perspective that vaping is safer than cigarette smoking, but in a lot of ways, we don’t know all the effects that come with vaping long-term and also vaping typically leads to cigarette smoking. So even though we’re doing better at an elderly population in terms of males and females, reducing their smoking rates, we are seeing this uptick because of the other options, like, vaping and e-cigarettes, and younger individuals,” Mahajan said.

Secondhand smoke, air pollution, among other irritants can also contribute to COPD aside from having a habit smoking.

“Complications or risks that we run into are exposure to hydrocarbons, wood burning furnaces, things of that nature. So, I think that conglomerating all of those together does increase your risk of COPD,” Mahajan said.

It is important to know that those with COPD, or anyone concerned about the disease have resources available to them.

“Your best resources are obviously speaking to your physician, especially if you feel as though you’re breathing has become worse in the setting of smoking, but really what we try and utilize and provide as much information as possible is the American Lung Association website,” Mahajan said.