A survey conducted by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has not only highlighted a spike in COPD occurrences—but also challenged the makeup of individuals typically affected by the condition.

Investigators conducted interviews with 4,343 participants from November 2012 to May 2013. Study respondents included those over the age of 40 and who were diagnosed with COPD/emphysema or chronic bronchitis. To quantify COPD severity, the researchers utilized the COPD Assessment Test (CAT) and the modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) Dyspnea Scale.

Standout results published in the International Journal of  Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease included that the US was the only country researched where women had a higher occurrence of COPD than men (7.1 vs 6.2%), a fourth of COPD patients never smoked, and age increased COPD risk—a widely recognized statistic. Alarmingly, half of the participants (54%) reported dealing with significant breathing difficulties.