A trend analysis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality in the United States by race and sex

Baharan Zarrabian, Mehdi Mirsaeidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Rationale: Chronic respiratory diseases, among which chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) remains the largest contributor, are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Updated mortality trends provide insight for targeted interventions. Objectives: To provide detailed insights into COPD mortality trends. Methods: This study used death certificate data collected from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control WONDER (Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiology Research) system between 2004 and 2018 among Americans 40 years of age and older. We used Joinpoint regression analysis to capture trends in annual age-adjusted COPD mortality rates and of the number of deaths caused by influenza or pneumococcal disease with COPD. To place mortality trends into perspective, we examined influenza and pneumococcal vaccination rates within the same time frame using population survey data. Results: Overall, mortality from COPD decreased, with an annual percentage change (APC) of 20.6% (95% confidence interval [CI], 20.9% to 20.3%) between 2004, at 72.9 deaths per population of 100,000, and 2018, at 67.4 deaths per population of 100,000. COPD mortality in men exceeded that in women; however, mortality in men continued to decline, with an APC of 21.2% (95% CI, 21.5% to 20.9%), unlike mortality in women, whose death rates were overall unchanged. Further stratifying sex by race, we found that African American women were the only sociodemographic group to have had an increase in COPD mortality, with an APC of 1.3% (95% CI, 0.9% to 1.6%). The number of deaths caused by influenza with COPD had increased over time, with an observed APC of 19.58% (95% CI, 6.9% to 33.8%) between 2004 and 2018. Increased influenza mortality paralleled trends of decreased influenza vaccination rates, wherein between 2011 and 2018, there was an APC of 25.1% (95% CI, 28.2% to 22.0%). This trend was also present for those with COPD; 451.4 per 1,000 respondents in 2011 were vaccinated against influenza compared with 352.1 per 1,000 respondents in 2018, resulting in an APC of 21.8% (95% CI, 23.3% to 20.2%). Pneumococcal vaccination rates between 2011 and 2018 remained unchanged; meanwhile, deaths caused by pneumococcal disease with COPD decreased, with an APC of 210.1% (95% CI, 216.6% to 23.1%). Conclusions: COPD mortality has decreased among Americans overall; however, there remain important sociodemographic groups that have not secured the same deceleration in death rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1138-1146
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Chronic obstructive
  • Health status disparities
  • Lung diseases
  • Obstructive
  • Pulmonary disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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