TUESDAY, May 19, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Being poor and living in a rural area are two risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a new study finds.
COPD is a progressive and incurable lung condition that involves a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is often linked to smoking, and is the third leading cause of death in the world.
In the new study, researchers led by author Dr. Sarath Raju of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore reviewed data from almost 88,000 American adults older than 40.
They found that 7.2 percent of them had COPD. However, the rate of COPD was closer to 12 percent among those who lived in poor and rural areas, Raju's team found.
Why would people in rural areas be at higher risk? The reasons aren't clear, the team said.
They said there's a need for research "to understand the potential contribution of occupational exposures, fuel sources and indoor air pollutants to COPD prevalence in poor, rural areas."
The study was to be presented Tuesday in Denver at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society. Experts note that findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about COPD.