Close to half of U.S. adults over 40 who have trouble breathing due to asthma or COPD still continue to smoke, federal health officials reported Wednesday.
The new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics come a day after the release of another agency report, which found that 15 percent of Americans between 40 and 79 years of age suffer from some form of lung obstruction -- typically asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In the new study, they found that in the years 2007-2012, about 46 percent of adults aged 40 to 79 who had a lung-obstructing illness currently smoked. That number rose to 55 percent when the researchers looked only at cases involving "moderate or worse" disease.
Smoking rates were similar between the sexes, and rose as levels of education fell, the CDC said. Rates of smoking for people with lung obstruction were more than double that of people without such illnesses -- about 20 percent.
Why do people whose illnesses are brought on or exacerbated by smoking continue with the deadly habit? The issues are often complex and tough to change.
Approximately 40 percent of those with COPD experience high levels of depression and anxiety, making it more difficult to comply with treatment and quitting smoking. What works best to help patients with COPD quit smoking is treatment for their depression.
Also effective is information about and availability of the most effective ways to quit, including FDA-approved cessation medications, empathetic counseling, motivational interviewing, and ongoing support from professionals, family and friends.
The alternative -- to continue smoking -- exacerbates COPD symptoms and raises the odds for death. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the USA. Also, since it is difficult to eat with shortness of breath, poor nutrition and unintended weight loss are also often consequences associated with COPD. Smoking can be an appetite suppressant and contribute to this weight loss.
The effort needed to quit smoking may be tough, but can pay off in real dividends for health.
For patients with COPD, the single best thing they can do for their lungs is quit smoking.
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