Barbara Bush‘s death Tuesday has put the national spotlight on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a group of lung conditions including asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis commonly caused by tobacco smoking.
The former first lady, who smoked cigarettes for decades before quitting in 1968, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and COPD, which has been a persistent killer of African-Americans for several years. Many non-smokers are also affected by the disease. Air pollutants, including secondhand smoke and some heating fuels, as well as dust, gases and fumes are also cited as causes. Genetic predisposition can cause the disease, too.
COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and affects millions, according to “COPD in a Population-Based Sample of Never-Smokers: Interactions among Sex, Gender, and Race,” a study published in the International Journal Of Chronic Diseases in 2016. Looking at the numbers among non-smokers, 7% of African-American women were reported to have COPD, as opposed to 5.2% of White women, the study revealed.
Common COPD symptoms include chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, not being able to take deep breaths and chronic phlegm production, according to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention. Though COPD may be underreported with infrequent research and studies about the disease’s facts available to people, it is still a crisis mainly affecting African-Americans.
COPD death rates among Blacks and women have been rapidly rising — an alarming pattern that breaks away from a longstanding belief that the disease only harmed White male smokers. But why are Black people more susceptible to the disease?
African-Americans and women may be particularly susceptible to tobacco smoke, according to the National Center For Biotechnology Information.
The high prevalence and mortality rates of Blacks with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and strokes have also been considered in determining how to stop COPD from being deadly. Questions of whether race or gender influence COPD susceptibility have also been introduced in trying to figure out the future impact of the disease.
Treatments to manage COPD symptoms include inhalers and other medications, oxygen, physical activity training and pulmonary rehabilitation. There is currently no cure for COPD. However, with medical professionals trying to figure out the disease’s future impact, a cure is hoped for soon.
In Memoriam: Notable Deaths In 2018
1. Kofi Annan, 80Source:WENN 1 of 28
2. Aretha Franklin, 76Source:Getty 2 of 28
3. Ron Dellums, 833 of 28
4. Angela Bowen, 824 of 28
5. Joe Jackson, 89Source:Getty 5 of 28
6. XXXTentacion, 20Source:Getty 6 of 28
7. Neal Boyd, 42Source:Getty 7 of 28
8. Dorothy Cotton, 88Source:Getty 8 of 28
9. Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, 74Source:Getty 9 of 28
10. Dovey Johnson Roundtree, 10410 of 28
11. Velvalea Rodgers 'Vel' Phillips, 9411 of 28
12. Doris Ward, 86Source:Getty 12 of 28
13. Yvonne Staples, 80Source:Getty 13 of 28
14. Cecil Taylor, 89Source:Getty 14 of 28
15. Donald McKayle, 87Source:Getty 15 of 28
16. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 81Source:Getty 16 of 28
17. Linda Brown, 76Source:Getty 17 of 28
18. Les Payne, 7618 of 28
19. Floyd J. Carter, Sr., 95Source:Getty 19 of 28
20. Ensa Cosby, 4420 of 28
21. Lerone Bennett Jr., 89Source:Getty 21 of 28
22. Reg E. CatheySource:Getty 22 of 28
23. Lovebug Starski, 57Source:Getty 23 of 28
24. Olivia Cole, 75Source:Getty 24 of 28
25. Wyatt Tee Walker, 88Source:Getty 25 of 28
26. Jesse 'Smiley' RutlandSource:WENN 26 of 28
27. Hugh Masekela, 78Source:Getty 27 of 28
28. Edwin Hawkins, 74Source:Getty 28 of 28
Barbara Bush Dies From COPD, A Disease That Kills Blacks And Women At High Rates was originally published on newsone.com