COPD has no cure but patients live longer and better

The Seminars of The Lancet provide an updated view of significant pathologies. Recently Dr. Marc Miravitlles, from the IDIBAPS team Applied research in respiratory diseases, participated in a review devoted to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), together with Marc Decramer and Wim Janssens from the University of Leuven (Belgium). The article reviews various aspects such as epidemiology, treatments and symptoms of the disease.

Although it was expected that the incidence of COPD would increase steadily, the number of cases has remained stable in recent years. Even a decrease in their severity has been observed, mainly due to the reduction of smoking in society. Unfortunately, in developing countries the situation is the opposite. Moreover, in the natural history of COPD, other factors have an important role, such as infections that may cause exacerbations and accelerate its evolution.

According to the Seminar published by The Lancet, COPD is a complex disease with different phenotypes that currently do not suppose different therapeutic approaches. Possible subgroups of patients are being postulated according to their manifestations and multidimensional prognostic tools are being designed. The ability to predict the evolution of a patient is increased if, as well as lung capacity, issues such as exercise capacity, body mass index or the frequency and severity of exacerbations are taken into account.

When it comes to treatment, the authors underline that it must consider other systemic manifestations of the disease. Patients with COPD are more likely to develop depression, hypertension, osteoporosis or heart disease. Although available therapies have not yet managed to change the natural history of disease, patients live longer and better. There is no cure available yet, but in recent years COPD has been studied from a broader perspective and the patient has now more tools for a successful self-management.

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