Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)

What Do I Need to Know About COPD in Canada?

COPD is the name for a group of lung diseases where people have difficulty breathing because their airways have been narrowed. It includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Approximately 1.6 million Canadians are living with COPD but have yet to be diagnosed.

People with COPD usually have one or more of these symptoms:

  • a cough that lasts a long time (3+ months)
  • a cough with mucus
  • feeling short of breath while doing everyday activities, such as climbing a flight of stairs or carrying groceries
  • lung infections (colds and the flu) that may last longer than usual
  • wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
  • feeling tired
  • losing weight (without trying to)


How is CARP Advocating?

As in many conditions, early diagnosis can improve health outcomes through medical and lifestyle interventions.  In the case of COPD, diagnosis is very simple and inexpensive but also is not done as often as it could be.  COPD can only be diagnosed through a test called spirometry, which measures how much air you can blow out of your lungs and how fast you can blow it out.  This is something that could easily be used by family doctors.

COPD is underdiagnosed, and this could change if more family doctors used spirometry to test patients.

CARP wants our members to reach out to their health professionals if the experience COPD symptoms, to know that doctors will want to help them (whether or not smoking is a factor, which isn’t always the case by any means), and to know and ask about this diagnostic tool.

How Can I Get Involved?

 According to the 2021 census, there are currently over 7 million seniors in Canada.

The population aged 85 and older is one of the fastest-growing age groups, with a 12% increase from 2016.

What this means is that not only are older Canadians a large and potentially powerful group in Canada, but also that federal and provincial policy-making that affects older Canadians is more important now than it has ever been.

There are many ways to get involved.  Go to the ‘Your Voice’ section of the website.