COPD

Chronic Obstructive Disease, or COPD is a common, preventable and treatable illness which is characterised by persistent respiratory symptoms and limited air flow.
Epoc

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.

Síntomas Epoc
Symptoms

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:

  • Dyspnea .
  • Cough .
  • Production of sputum (phlegm).
  • Physical impairment.

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.

Risk factors and treatment

At global level, an increased prevalence of COPD is expected due to the following factors:

  1. Our lifestyles associated with greater exposure to risk factors .
  2. Ageing population.

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:

  • Exposure to contaminated indoor air such as kitchens or central heating.
  • Atmospheric pollution.
  • Exposure to chemicals.
Factores de riesgo Epoc

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:

  • Prevention. As COPD is related to modifiable risk factors, it can be prevented by creating healthier environments, providing courses to encourage people to give up smoking and raising awareness.
  • Adequate symptom control and avoiding the risk of complications from worsened or exacerbated symptoms.

  • 1 Organización Mundial de la Salud. Las 10 principales causas de defunción. Disponible en: https://www.who.int/es/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death
  • 2 Sobradillo V, Miravitlles M, Gabriel R, Jiménez-Ruiz CA, Villasante C, Masa JF, et al. Geographical variations in prevalence and underdiagnosis of COPD. Results of the IBERPOC multicentre epidemiological study. Chest. 2000; 118: 981-989.
  • 3 Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management and Prevention of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 2021 Report, 104.
  • 4 Organización Mundial de la Salud. Enfermedad pulmonar obstructiva crónica (EPOC). Disponible en: https://www.who.int/es/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-(copd)
  • 5 Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management and Prevention of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 2021 Report, 5.
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