Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition characterised by airflow obstruction, which is usually progressive, not fully reversible and does not change markedly over several months (1).
Although the American Thoracic Society (ATS), British Thoracic Society (BTS), and European Respiratory Society (ERS) definitions of COPD emphasize chronic bronchitis and emphysema, the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), in its 2017 report, has revised the definition to include airflow limitation (not airflow obstruction) and its association with abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to various noxious particles or gases. GOLD defines COPD as: (2)
“a common, preventable a treatable disease that is characterised by persistent respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation that is due to airway and/or alveolar abnormalities usually caused by significant exposure to noxious particles or gases” (2).
Chronic airflow limitations present in COPD is caused by a combination of small airway disease (e.g. obstructive bronchiolitis) and parenchymal damage (emphysema).
COPD is an important cause of activity limitation in the population.
Last edited 02/2021 and last reviewed 02/2021