Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a term often used to describe two lung conditions in particular: chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema. Smoking is also a large risk factor for COPD.
It is estimated that there are 3 million people in England alone with COPD. Unfortunately, it is thought that less than a million people have actually been diagnosed with the disease.1 COPD is projected to become the fourth leading cause of death by 2020.2 The main symptoms of COPD are breathlessness, cough and sputum (in some patients). COPD develops slowly over many years and is punctuated by frequent exacerbations or flare ups of symptoms. Many of these exacerbations result in unplanned hospital admissions.3 As COPD is irreversible; the main goals of management are to help COPD patients manage their illness, maintain or improve their health-related quality of life and reduce hospital admissions.