Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. “Progressive” means that the disease gets worse over time.

Approximately 12 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with COPD. Many more may be affected and not know they have it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Its prevalence increases with age. Men are more likely to have the disease, but the death rate for men and women is about the same.