COPD is the result of alterations in the respiratory and/or alveolar tracts, and is caused by different factors, mainly environmental exposure to harmful particles or gases.
It is one of the leading causes of illness and death in the world.
According to the WHO, COPD is already the third cause of death on a global scale (exceeded by coronary heart disease and strokes) 1.
In our country, 1 in 10 people over 40 years old has COPD, but more than 70% are unaware of this 2. One of the main causes which explain this is that symptoms appear gradually and evolve slowly. For this reason, the patient may not notice them. The most common symptoms are3:
These signs often worsen if the patient exerts him/herself or, in more advanced stages, they can get worse when doing basic daily activities or when resting 4. People with COPD may suffer periods of worsened symptoms (exacerbations) which require swift and appropriate intervention, as they can be incapacitating or fatal in some cases 3.
At global level, an increased prevalence of COPD is expected due to the following factors:
The main risk factor of COPD is active and passive smoking, There are also other triggers, which are mainly related to environmental exposure, such as 4:
As well as exposure 4, there are also individual risk factors which make people more likely to develop COPD. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is also related to allergies, childhood respiratory infections, genetic abnormalities, abnormal pulmonary development and premature ageing 5 .
Regarding treatment, the main approaches focus on 4: