Obstructive pulmonary disease


Topic Completed: 1 August 2011

Minor changes: 10 August 2020

Copyright: 2003-2021,, Inc.

PubMed search: copd [title] general lungs

Elliot Weisenberg, M.D.
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Table of Contents
Definition / general
Cite this page: Weisenberg E. COPD. website. Accessed October 25th, 2021.
Definition / general
  • Also called chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD) (Wikipedia)
  • Two major forms are chronic bronchitis (chronic large airway disease) and emphysema; they may coexist
  • Major cause of bed defining disability and death in US
  • Major symptom is dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Usually due to cigarette smoking
  • Sites of disease:
    • Bronchi: chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis and asthma
    • Bronchioles: bronchiolitis
    • Acini: emphysema
  • Obstructive airway disease: increase in resistance to airflow due to obstruction at any level; includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis, asthma, tumor, foreign body; have reduced maximal airflow rates (FEV1); although isolated chronic bronchitis does not show reduced FEV1, coexisting emphysema or small airway disease is usually present
  • Restrictive airway disease: reduced expansion of lung parenchyma with decrease in total lung capacity; normal FEV1; due to chest wall disorders (polio, obesity, pleural disease, kyphoscoliosis) and interstitial / infiltrative diseases (ARDS, dust diseases, interstitial fibrosis)
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