Patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease lose around $1,800 of their income each year as a direct result of their condition, according to a new study.

That is one of the findings to come out of research published by the BMC Public Health Journal which claims to provide "a substantive insight into the  economic, social and personal impact of COPD for working aged patients across the world". It notes that nearly one in five of 45-67 year olds with COPD are forced to retire prematurely, thereby incurring increased healthcare costs, "reducing their personal tax and pension contributions and increasing disability allowance costs to governments".

The survey, called COPD Uncovered, involved 2,426 participants in Brazil, China, Germany, Turkey, the USA and the UK. Inclusion criteria were a recalled physician diagnosis of COPD, a smoking history of more than 10 pack years and the use of drugs for the condition in the previous three months prior to questioning.

The analysis "highlights the devastating impact of COPD on a working age population and how the cost of the illness is more extensive than has previously been recognised”, said Monica Fletcher, chief executive of Education for Health, and COPD Uncovered lead author. She added that ”significant cost, societal and quality of life benefits could be achieved if greater steps were taken to prevent the condition, such as more intensive work-based smoking cessation programs, earlier diagnosis and appropriate management strategies to control symptoms and arrest disease progression".

COPD is thought to affect 210 million people worldwide, although it is estimated that only half of these people have been diagnosed. For the specifics of the survey, visit