Who is at risk of getting COPD?
I have a family history of COPD and smoke. I am a 38 year old woman and would like to know if this puts me at greater risk.
Yes - you are absolutely at much higher risk. COPD (or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a degenerative condition of the lungs in which tissue breaks down, usually due to chronic inflammation induced by smoking. There are also rarer forms of COPD which can be inherited, but virtually all COPD comes from smoking. The fact that you are an active smoker puts you at much higher risk of developing COPD than the general non smoking population. The fact that you have a family history of COPD is also concerning, because this means that your family genetics may be more susceptible to the damage causes by smoking than other families (it could just mean that you have had many heavy smokers in the family). Stopping smoking is absolutely critical for your health. Not only will this slow the damage to your lungs and potentially prevent the development of COPD (or lung cancer) but it will also halt the many other harmful effects of smoking that put you at extremely elevated risk of other conditions as well, such as heart attacks and strokes. If you are interested in quitting smoking, you should talk to your primary care doctor. There are multiple approaches to quitting that they can discuss with you.