5 Tips For Women  to Reduce Their  Risk of COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a leading cause of disability and death in the United States, takes an especially heavy toll on women. You may think problems like shortness of breath, frequent coughs or wheezing are just signs of getting older, but it’s important to pay attention to these symptoms and discuss them with your doctor.

What is it?

Did you know that women may be more vulnerable to the effects of smoking? Women who smoke tend to get COPD at younger ages and with less cigarettes smoked than men. COPD is the leading cause of death among U.S. women smokers.

Don't Smoke

Women may be more vulnerable to indoor and outdoor air pollution. Women’s smaller lungs and airways mean the same amount of inhaled pollutants may cause more damage. Working in places like nail salons, hair salons or dry cleaners can expose you to harmful chemicals.

Avoid Pollutants

People at risk for COPD are more likely to have serious problems resulting from some vaccine-preventable diseases. Ask a health care provider about getting vaccinated against the flu, pneumococcal disease and COVID-19.

Stay Current on Vaccines

Women with COPD tend to be diagnosed later than men when the disease is more severe and treatments are less effective. If you think you could be at risk, or you are having symptoms, bring it up with your health care provider.

Talk to Your Doctor

Find more information on COPD from NHLBI’s Learn More Breathe Better® program at copd.nhlbi.nih.gov.

Learn to Breathe Better

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