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People with COPD often have other chronic diseases and long-term conditions. These are referred to as 'comorbidities'—two or more health problems that are present at the same time. Comorbidities are typically more common in older age groups.

The chronic conditions selected for this analysis include asthma, cardiovascular disease, back problems, mental health problems, arthritis, diabetes and cancer. They were selected because they are common in the general population and cause significant burden.

Factors that can affect health in a negative way are referred to as risk factors. Some risk factors increase the chance of developing a condition, while others increase the chance that a person who already has the condition will develop additional health problems.

In this analysis, COPD includes people who indicated in the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) 2014–15 National Health Survey (NHS) that they had "bronchitis" or "emphysema" that has lasted, or was expected to last, for 6 months or more. This does not necessarily equate to the medical definition of COPD based on lung function criteria and a history of exposure to inhaled smoke or fumes that cause COPD. Due to the limitations of self-reported data and the classification method used for COPD in this survey, caution should be taken when interpreting these results.

In this section

Information included in these webpages was last updated in August 2016.

image shows 9 in 10 people

9 in 10

Australians with COPD currently have at least one other chronic condition (91%), based on self-reported data.

Column graph compares 52% of people with COPD also have arthritis, compared with 49% with CVD and 42% with asthma.


of people with COPD also report arthritis, making this the most common of the selected comorbidities, followed by cardiovascular disease (49%) and asthma (42%).

Bar graph shows 24% of people with COPD are daily smokers and 14% of people without COPD are daily smokers.

1.7 x

People with COPD over the age of 18 were 1.7x as likely to report being a current daily smoker (24%) compared to people without COPD (14%).

Pie chart shows 73% of people with COPD aged 65+ also report CVD.


of people with COPD aged 65 and over also report cardiovascular disease.