Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious public health problem. Understanding the longitudinal trend in prevalence is important for characterizing the burden of COPD and planning health services.We analyzed the prevalence of airflow obstruction between 2001 and 2011 using data from Korean National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (2001, n = 2217; 2011, n = 3101). Participants >40 years of age with an FEV1/FVC <0.7 were defined as having COPD. We used data from the Population and Housing Census, which was conducted by Statistics Korea in 2010, to compare the prevalence of COPD after standardizing by age.The crude prevalence of COPD was not significantly different between 2001 and 2011 (2001, 13.0%; 2011, 13.2%), but the age-standardized prevalence of COPD decreased significantly over the 10-year period (2001, 15.7%; 2011, 12.4%). While significant decreases were observed for ex-smokers and current smokers, significant increases were noted for subjects who smoked <20 pack-years and those with a BMI ≤18.5 kg/m2. The prevalence of mild and severe COPD decreased (2001, mild 8.5%, severe 1.4%; 2011, mild 5.4%, severe 0.5%), while the prevalence of moderate COPD increased (2001, 5.7%; 2011, 6.4%) after age standardization.We report a reduction in the age-standardized prevalence of COPD in Korea from 2001 to 2011. Continued surveillance and early prevention are required because the socioeconomic burden of COPD remains substantial.
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