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For more information contact:

Joe Thornton
Office of Communications & Legislative Affairs
West Virginia Department of health and Human Resources
Phone: 304-558-7899 Fax: 304-558-7075
Cell: 304-546-7960 e-mail:

For immediate release

Report released on lung disease in West Virginia

According to a new report released by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginians are more likely than their counterparts elsewhere to die from chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD), a classification that comprises chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. In fact, CLRD has been the third leading cause of death in the state since 2000, while remaining the fourth leading cause nationwide.

West Virginia’ s age-adjusted rate of CLRD mortality (63.2 deaths per 100,000 population) was the highest among all states and the District of Columbia in 2000 and exceeded the national rate for both sexes and among all age groups.

Smoking is the most important risk factor for CLRD, accounting for about 80 percent of all cases. In 2001, 28 percent of adults in West Virginia reported being current smokers, the fourth highest rate in the country. The state’s youth also report high rates of smoking, although these rates have been on a downward trend since 1999.

The report also looks at inpatient hospitalization and payer data in 2000. Hospitalization rates for chronic bronchitis in that year were three times higher than comparable rates nationwide. The rates of hospitalization for chronic bronchitis and emphysema have increased steadily since 1996 among both men and women. Total charges for hospitalizations attributed to chronic lung disease amounted to nearly $68 million, with Medicare bearing the brunt (71 percent) of the costs.

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