Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)


What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. It includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and in some cases asthma.

What causes COPD?
In the United States, tobacco smoke is a key factor in the development and progression of COPD, although exposure to air pollutants in the home and workplace, genetic factors, and respiratory infections also play a role. In the developing world, indoor air quality is thought to play a larger role in the development and progression of COPD than it does in the United States

Who has COPD?
Chronic lower respiratory disease, primarily COPD, was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2011.2 Fifteen million Americans report that they have been diagnosed with COPD.3 More than 50% of adults with low pulmonary function were not aware that they had COPD4; therefore the actual number may be higher. The following groups were more likely to report COPD:

  • People aged 65–74 years.
  • Non-Hispanic whites.
  • Women.
  • Individuals who were unemployed, retired, or unable to work.
  • Individuals with less than a high school education.
  • People with lower incomes.
  • Individuals who were divorced, widowed, or separated.
  • Current or former smokers.
  • Those with a history of asthma.

How is COPD treated?
Treatment of COPD requires a careful and thorough evaluation by a physician. 4,5 COPD treatment can alleviate symptoms, decrease the frequency and severity of exacerbations, and increase exercise tolerance. For those who smoke, the most important aspect of treatment is smoking cessation. Avoiding tobacco smoke and removing other air pollutants from the patient’s home or workplace are also important. Symptoms such as coughing or wheezing can be treated with medication.6 Pulmonary rehabilitation is an individualized treatment program that teaches COPD management strategies to increase quality of life. Plans may include breathing strategies, energy-conserving techniques, and nutritional counseling. The flu can cause serious problems in people with COPD. Vaccination during flu season is recommended and respiratory infections should be treated with antibiotics, if appropriate. Patients who have low blood oxygen levels are often given supplemental oxygen.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Intermountain Healthcare

Please click of any of the resources below.

The 1s, 2s and 3s of COPD
The 1s, 2s, and 3s of COPD was created in 2009 and most recently updated in November 2012. It contains in-depth information covering many COPD-related topics including COPD diagnosis, treatment, management, anxiety, depression, dealing with exacerbations, and a list of resources.
Source: The COPD Foundation

The "What's" of COPD
Source: The COPD Foundation

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