Young COPD Patients Retire Early

COPD on working age patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) There is some bad news in a tough economic climate. About forty percent of people who suffer from chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) are forced to retire early due to their health.

COPD Uncovered, an annual report published by Education for Health, a U.K. non-profit, focused on the personal and societal impacts of COPD on the working population. The average age of retirement for people with COPD is 54, in countries where typical retirement age is 65 years.

"Seek care for COPD early to improve your quality of life."

People aged 40 – 65 years old currently constitute a quarter of the world's population, and they're at the peak of their earning potential. Not only does premature retirement decrease their lifetime earnings, but the burden of disease is passed on to family and friends who may give up their jobs in order to provide care.

COPD also has a profoundly negative impact on life outside work as well. An international survey of 2,426 COPD patients under age 65 revealed that 80% were unable to maintain the same lifestyle they had before the onset of their condition, one in four were unable to care for children or family as they normally would, and about one out of five patients reported feeling like a burden to their family and friends.

Among the report's findings:

  • Individual lifetime income losses due to retiring prematurely are estimated at $316,000 or a combined total of $141 million
  • 26% of people aged between 45 and 67 who were not in work gave up working because of COPD
  • COPD costs include healthcare utilization, lost taxes, increased state benefits and impaired or lost productivity
  • Overall cost of COPD to an economy amounts to nearly $2.4 billion
  • Up to 50% of patients reported a decrease in their total household income
  • 60% of patients worry about their future ability to earn an income as a consequence of their COPD
  • Patients worry about their health, comorbidities associated with COPD, their families and their ability to plan for the future

The report emphasized that preventing lung damage can help avoid the negative impacts of COPD. It recommended that governments prioritize treating younger COPD patients, to help them return to work, and raise awareness among the public.

The survey was conducted using a questionaire, completed by COPD patients in six countries. COPD Uncovered was updated in September 2011, and the findings were presented at the annual European Respitory Society conference in Amsterdam.

Funding for the COPD Uncovered initiative was provided by Novartis Parma AG.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 11, 2011
Last Updated:
October 12, 2011