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Emphysema falls under the umbrella of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People with emphysema have stretched lungs, which unsurprisingly causes damage to this essential organ. In most cases, they have difficulty breathing and a chronic cough. According to the CDC, smoking is the primary cause, but it can also be genetic. More than 3.5 million Americans were diagnosed with the condition in 2016. Out of this number, 7,455 individuals died. Despite these deaths, people still know little about this silent killer.

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1. Smoking is the Major Causative Agent

Though emphysema can be genetic, smoking is more often to blame and was the cause traced back to the majority of diagnosed individuals in 2016. It is important to note that even if the condition is genetic, smoking escalates it, and abstaining from cigarettes can lower anyone's risk.

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