Overview of epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and staging with 2020 Updates

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Joyce Akwe, MD, MPH Nadene Fair, MD Tatah Fongeh, MD


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a preventable and treatable disease. It is among the fastest growing chronic diseases diagnosed in the world today. COPD is the third most common cause of death in the United States and is predicted to get worse. It is characterized by the development of an exaggerated inflammatory response of the lungs to noxious substances such as tobacco or air pollution. If the exposure becomes recurrent or persistent, the lungs develop chronic inflammatory response leading to lung parenchymal damage, air trapping and progressive airflow limitation. The Diagnosis of COPD is usually made in the contest of symptoms, exposure to risk factors and spirometry evidence of airway obstruction with post bronchodilator spirometry FEV1/FVC < 0.70. Most patients with COPD first sick medical attention when they develop dyspnea.

Once the diagnosis of COPD has been confirmed, the treatment is geared mainly towards preventing exacerbations and eliminating risk factors and exposures. Several treatments combinations can be used in patients with stable COPD to prevent exacerbations and to improve their quality of life. Patients with COPD exacerbations have to be appropriately diagnosed and promptly treated to prevent complications. Patient’s symptoms, the degree of airflow limitation, risk of exacerbations and the presence of comorbidities have to be assessed. Both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions have been used in the management of COPD.

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AKWE, Joyce; FAIR, Nadene; FONGEH, Tatah. Overview of epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and staging with 2020 Updates. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 8, n. 2, feb. 2020. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <https://esmed.org/MRA/mra/article/view/2046>. Date accessed: 25 mar. 2023. doi: https://doi.org/10.18103/mra.v8i2.2046.


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