Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with acute exacerbation, henceforth referred to as COPD, has been found to increase in association with air pollution from bushfire smoke (see Australian bushfires 2019–20: exploring the short-term health impacts); therefore, while COPD was included within all respiratory conditions, emergency department presentations with a principal diagnosis of COPD with acute exacerbation (ICD-10-AM code J44.1) were also analysed separately. The current chapter reports the presentation rate of COPD for all ages. While COPD can be reported in younger age groups, the diagnosis of the condition is more certain for those aged 45 and over.
Nationally, there were increases in presentations for COPD from 3 November 2019 to the end of February 2020. There was a large increase in the presentation rate of 31% in the week beginning 12 January 2020—1.4 per 100,000 persons (about 365 presentations), compared with 1.1 per 100,000 in the previous bushfire season (about 275 presentations).
To explore national data and data for states and territories, see interactive data visualisations below (for data tables see Supplementary table S3).
Emergency department presentation rate, by jurisdiction, COPD (ICD-10-AM code J44.1), weeks in 2019–20 bushfire season relative to previous year