KARACHI, June 6: A research on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) suggests that more than 13 million people in the Middle East and Africa region suffer from COPD because of cigarette smoking, while its prevalence rate in Pakistan is as high as 2.1 per cent in the population aged 40 years and above.

The prevalence estimate also appears to be the tip of the iceberg as given that other risk factors such as hookah smoking or exposure to burning biomass fuel were not considered in the calculation.

The COPD is a general title given to a number of conditions, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It causes the airways in the lungs to become narrower, making it more difficult for the air to move in and out of the lungs. These are the conditions in which the airways narrow over time; it limits airflow to and from the lungs, causing shortness of breath (dyspnoea). Dr Javaid A. Khan of the Aga Khan University and a member of the committee that organised the study said that the study had quantified the true burden of COPD for the first time both in terms of its societal cost and the impact the disease had on patients and their families in the region.

The study findings show that smoking remained a major and growing public health issue in Pakistan with estimated cigarette smoking rate as high as 15.1 per cent, while cigarette and hookah smoking (or both) among men was as high as 30.1 per cent and two per cent in women.

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