Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a general term used for diseases characterized by permanent or temporary airway obstruction due to narrowing of the airways (bronchial tubes). The two main forms of COPD are Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema, both of which have several common factors. Although the symptoms of each are similar, Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema are considered independent diseases.

COPD affects more than 10 million persons in the United States, with Chronic Bronchitis accounting for approximately 75% of cases and emphysema accounting for the remaining 25%. The incidence, prevalence, and mortality rates of COPD increase with age and are higher in men, whites, and persons of lower socioeconomic status. Cigarette smoking remains the principal cause of disease in up to 90% of patients with chronic bronchitis and emphysema. However, only 15-20% of smokers develop COPD. Repeated exposure to air pollution, dust, or chemical fumes can also lead to the development of COPD, but the contribution of these factors appears to be minor compared with tobacco use.

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