Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by chronic limited airflow in & out of the lungs, that interferes with normal breathing and is not fully reversible. The prevalence of COPD is appreciably higher in adults ≥40 years of age compared to those <40.

The top cause of COPD is tobacco smoking; however a good percentage of people with COPD never smoked. Long-term exposure to chemical irritants can also lead to COPD as well as indoor and outdoor air pollution. It could also be the result of genetic predisposition.

It is a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms tipically worsen over time. The main symptoms include shortness of breath, or a “need for air”, and cough with sputum production; breakdown of lung tissue could also happen. People with COPD are also likely to experience periods of acute worsening termed exacerbations or “lung attacks”, during which their symptoms become worse than usual day-to-day variation and persist for at least several days.

COPD often coexists with significant concomitant chronic diseases (e.g lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, depression/anxiety) that may have a significant impact on disease course.

Because of the progressive nature of COPD, the early diagnosis and the effective treatment management is essential. Diagnosis is based on symptoms, physical exams, and diagnostic test results.

Considering the social burden of COPD, the goal of effective management aims to improve patient’s functional status and quality of life by preserving optimal lung function, improving symptoms, preventing the recurrence of exacerbations and reducing mortality.


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