COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States and accounts for a fifth of all hospitalizations among people over age 75 — yet we hear surprisingly little about it. Why is that? “COPD has a stigma,” said Dr. Gulshan Sharma, director of pulmonary and critical care medicine at UTMB. Because smoking accounts for most COPD in this country, the prevailing public attitude is, “You did it to yourself,” he said. So the disease, which strikes older people more frequently, remains both underdiagnosed and undertreated. Yet the research Sharma and his colleagues recently published in The American Journal of Medicine documents considerable progress.