More than 200,000 people in Danmark are completely unaware that they suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as smoker’s lungs, a lung condition that causes 3,600 deaths in the country every year.
Experts urge people who experience shortness of breath, congestion and a recurrent cough to see their doctor.
Highest mortality rate in Europe
Johannes Flensted-Jensen, chairman of the patient association for lung disease sufferers Danmarks Lungeforening, emphasised that the condition is treatable.
“There are about 400,000 Danes suffering from COPD and 200,000 of them don’t know it. It’s a catastrophe because COPD is a condition that can’t be cured, but you need to slow down its development,” Jensen told Metroxpress newspaper.
“We have the highest mortality rate during hospitalisation with COPD in the whole of Europe. The only country that surpasses us globally is Kazakhstan.”
According to Jette Blands, a doctor at the health authority Sundhedsstyrelsen, the cost of the illness is also apparent when counted in kroner: treating patients with COPD costs 3.3 billion kroner every year.
“We can see that there continues to be a lot of people being hospitalised with COPD, which is one of the most common causes for hospitalisation in medical wards, and the numbers aren’t falling. They are almost rising,” Blands said.
“It’s an illness that is costly for society and the people who have it.”