COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. "Progressive" means the disease gets worse over time. The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoke, including second-hand or passive exposure.
Indoor air pollution is responsible for a greater fraction of COPD risk than smoking or outdoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organization. Other risk factors for COPD include occupational dusts and chemicals (such as vapors, irritants, and fumes) and frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood.
COPD is the third leading cause of death in America, claiming the lives of 124,477 Americans in 2007.Learn more about COPD.