Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe respiratory diseases characterised by airway obstruction. COPD is now an established and significant chronic disease, killing over 30 000 people in the UK every year. According to the World Health Organization, COPD will become the third biggest killer in the world by 2020. The financial and human cost of the disease is huge. To appreciate the pathophysiology of obstructive pulmonary diseases, it is first necessary to understand a number of important lung concepts. This article discusses the pathophysiology of COPD, highlighting the main mechanisms involved, provides an outline of the associated signs, symptoms and treatment of COPD and explore how health care professionals in the community/residential care settings can help manage and improve the quality of life for patients with COPD.
- community care