Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases characterized by progressive and irreversible airflow obstruction that interferes with normal breathing. These include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Although there is a genetic component, smoking, environmental pollution, and toxins are the most common causes of COPD. COPD is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Approximately 20% of outpatient clinic visits, 22% of visits to specialists, and 36% of visits to generalists are COPD related. It is the only major disease with an increasing death rate, rising by more than 16% over a 20-year period. COPD is the third leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. In 2007, 124,477 deaths from COPD were reported.
According to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) recommendations, effective management of COPD includes disease assessment and monitoring, reduction of risk factors, management of stable COPD, and management of exacerbations. However, COPD often goes unrecognized, even though it can be diagnosed easily and reliably with simple spirometry. Spirometry is the gold standard for diagnosing COPD because it is the most standardized and reproducible measurement of reduced airflow.
This activity will review the epidemiology and pathology of COPD; discuss the proper way to diagnose COPD, using spirometry to identify the GOLD stage of the disease; and present current evidence-based guidelines for the management of COPD, including exacerbations.