Chronic Respiratory Diseases (CRDs)

by HCC

Source WHO Fact Sheet

Chronic Respiratory Diseases (CRDs)

Chronic Respiratory Diseases (CRDs) are diseases of the airways and other structures of the lung. Some of the most common are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension. In addition to tobacco smoke, other risk factors include air pollution, occupational chemicals and dusts, and frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood. CRDs are not curable, however, various forms of treatment that help dilate major air passages and improve shortness of breath can help control symptoms and increase the quality of life for people with the disease. The WHO Global Alliance against CRDs (GARD) has a vision of a world in which all people breathe freely, and focuses in particular on the needs of people with CRDs in low-income and middle-income countries.

About chronic respiratory diseases

Chronic respiratory diseases are chronic diseases of the airways and other structures of the lung. Some of the most common are:

Main risk factors

  • tobacco smoking
  • indoor air pollution
  • outdoor pollution
  • allergens
  • occupational risks and vulnerability

Main facts

Hundreds of millions of people suffer every day from chronic respiratory diseases. According to the latest WHO estimates (2004), currently 235 million people have asthma, 64 million people have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) while millions have allergic rhinitis and other often-underdiagnosed chronic respiratory diseases.

Key facts

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a life-threatening lung disease that interferes with normal breathing – it is more than a “smoker’s cough”.
  • More than 3 million people died of COPD in 2012, which is equal to 6% of all deaths globally that year.
  • More than 90% of COPD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoke (through tobacco use or second-hand smoke).
  • The disease now affects men and women almost equally, due in part to increased tobacco use among women in high-income countries.
  • COPD is not curable, but treatment can slow the progress of the disease.

1 Prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases: guidelines for primary health care in low resource settings, 2012.

Source WHO Fact Sheet