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. The two most common conditions included within COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema: 

  • Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs. It's characterized by daily cough and mucus (sputum) production.
  • Emphysema is a condition in which the alveoli at the end of the smallest air passages (bronchioles) of the lungs are destroyed due to damaging exposure to cigarette smoke and other irritating gases and particulate matter.


Risk factors

  • Tobacco smoking
  • Pollution
  • Occupational dusts and chemicals (vapors, irritants, and fumes) 


Tests include:
  • Lung pulmonary function tests – measure the amount of air you can inhale and exhale, and if the lungs are delivering enough oxygen to your blood
  • Spirometry – spirometer machine measures how much air your lungs can hold and how fast you can blow the air out of your lungs
  • Chest x-ray – can show emphysema and rule out other lung problems or heart failure
  • CT scan – detects emphysema and helps determine if one benefits from surgery for COPD
  • Arterial blood gas analysis – blood test that measures how well lungs are bringing oxygen into the body and removing carbon dioxide. 


COPD is not curable. However, medical and physical treatments can help relieve symptoms, improve exercise capacity and quality of life and reduce the risk of death. 



  • Globally, it is estimated that about 3 million deaths were caused by the disease 
  • More than 13 million Americans suffer from COPD
  • More than 90% of COPD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.
  • 20-30% of chronic smokers may develop clinically apparent COPD
about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • "Overview." COPD Overview - Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.
  • "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease." Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.
  • "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)." CDC - COPD. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Sept. 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.
  • "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)." WHO. World Health Organization, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.


People with COPD may be restricted by their disease in terms of achieving life goals, maintaining an active social life, or caring for their family. In addition to severely impacting a person’s quality of life, loss of activity in patients can have a serious economic impact at a societal level. Here are 8 ways in which COPD can impact individuals, families, and the country as a whole:


 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)




NOTE: The information on this page and any information found on healtheo360 is not a substitution for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, CALL 911 immediately. See additional information about our Terms & Conditions.