What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is characterized by
abnormalities in the lungs that make it difficult to exhale normally.
Generally, two distinct diseases are involved: emphysema and chronic
bronchitis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 75% of deaths
from COPD that occur in developed countries are directly related to smoking
tobacco. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis cause excessive inflammatory
processes that eventually lead to abnormalities in lung structure that
permanently obstruct airflow (hence the term "chronic obstructive"). A recent
study shows that adults with asthma are 12 times more likely to develop COPD
than those who do not have the condition.
Tobacco use is the number one risk factor for COPD and heavy smokers are at
greatest risk. Cigarette smokers are at greater risk than cigar and pipe
smokers. All smokers are at greater risk than lifelong non smokers.