Key points

  • 5–10% of adults aged over 40 years have COPD, with a higher prevalence in men than women.
  • The key risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is tobacco smoke, but occupational exposures, pollution and genetic factors play a role.
  • The most important symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are breathlessness on exertion and chronic cough with or without phlegm, but fatigue, anorexia and weight loss can arise as the disease progresses.
  • Treatment is multimodal, including smoking cessation, medical treatment with bronchodilators as well as inhibitors of inflammation, physical exercise and oxygen therapy.

See the entire Obstructive pulmonary disease Chapter