White Paper: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a term used to describe 2 related lung diseases: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is inflammation and scarring of the airway tubes of the lung and emphysema is enlargement and destruction of the air sacs of the lung. People with COPD have trouble breathing. About 80 to 90 of COPD cases are due to cigarette smoking and people who smoke have 10 times the risk of developing COPD than nonsmokers (Parmet S, Lynm C, and Glass RM. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. JAMA  290, 2362, 2003). Once thought to be an old man’s disease, because of the smoking boom in women, it is now a major killer of women. Since 2000 more women than men have died or been hospitalized every year because of the disease.

This disease kills 120,000 Americans each year and is the fourth leading cause of death. About 12 million Americans have it, including many who have quit smoking, and studies suggest that 12 million more cases have not been diagnosed. "It’s the largest uncontrolled epidemic of disease in the U.S. today," said Dr. James Crapo, Professor, National Jewish Hospital and Research Center (Grady D. From Smoking Boom, a Major Killer of Women. The New York Times November 29, 2007).

Symptoms of COPD

  1. Chronic cough
  2. Increased sputum
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Limitation of physical activity


  1. Stop smoking to stop the progression of the disease!!!
  2. Bronchodilators prescribed by your doctor.
  3. Steroids prescribed by your doctor.
  4. Oxygen often supplied in a portable tank.
  5. Antibiotics to fight off infection.

For more information visit Guideline.gov.