Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease risk factors
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a group of diseases characterized by the pathological limitation of airflow in the airway that is not fully reversible. A full comprehensive diagnosis is needed to eliminate related conditions and isolate the influence of lifestyle and behavior risk factors on condition outcome. Some common risk factors are cigarette smoking, occupational pollutants, air pollution and genetics. Other risk factors are increasing age, male gender, allergy, repeated airway infection.
A primary factor of COPD is chronic tobacco smoking. In the United States, around 90% of cases of COPD are due to smoking. Not all smokers will develop COPD, but continuous smokers have at least a 25% risk.
Some occupational pollutants, such as cadmium and silica, have shown to be a contributing risk factor for COPD. The people at highest risk for these pollutants include:
- Coal workers
- Construction workers
- Metal workers
- Cotton workers
However, in most cases these pollutants are combined with cigarette smoking further increasing the chance of developing COPD.These occupations are commonly associated with other respiratory diseases, particularly pneumoconiosis (black lung disease).
- Urban air pollution may be a contributing factor for COPD as it is thought to impair the development of the lung function. In developing countries indoor air pollution, usually due to biomass fuel, has been linked to COPD, especially in women.
- Very rarely, there may be a deficiency in an enzyme known as alpha 1-antitrypsin which causes a form of COPD.
Other Risk Factors
- Increasing age
- Male gender
- Repeated airway infection
- General impaired lung function
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