March 16th, 2011
10:30 AM ET

What should I expect after COPD diagnosis?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Question asked by Pamela of Nashville, Tennessee:

I just learned that I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. Can you tell me about it and what the prognosis is? I also have coronary artery disease and have had stents placed.

Expert answer:

Dear Pamela,

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a disease that truly negatively affects quality of life. Patients with COPD are prone to asthma-like wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing that can occur in episodes caused by chromic inflammation. They're also prone to viral and bacterial infections.

It is the fourth most common cause of death in the United States, killing an estimated 120,000 people each year.

While COPD is most noted for episodes of shortness of breath and wheezing, the disease is typically slowly progressive and persistent. Medical treatment can be successful in relieving symptoms and reducing the severity of exacerbations.

Treatment is with inhaled bronchodilators, steroids to reduce inflammation and other oral medications.

Breathing problems? Check them with this test

Early diagnosis and good treatment are important as they can reduce the number and severity of exacerbations and prolong survival. Some people can live with this condition for several decades.

More than 80% of patients with COPD have a history of cigarette smoking. A few patients have it because of chemical inhalation exposure. Most are overweight or obese. Weight loss can also occur in severe COPD and is a sign of severe disease with a poor prognosis.

At one time, we distinguished different types of COPD, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. All patients with COPD have an element of each, although one component will usually predominate in the individual patient.

Chronic bronchitis is defined by a chronic cough that produces sputum. Emphysema is defined by enlargement and destruction of the airspaces in the lung.

When the physician examines a patient with very severe COPD one finds decreased breath sounds, wheezes, crackles at the lungs, and distant heart sounds. The patient's diaphragm in limited in movement, meaning the patient cannot take in deep breaths. In extremely severe disease, the chest size is increased.

Patients lean forward to use all the muscles of the chest and neck to bring air in. COPD can progress to cause heart failure, as the right side of the heart cannot pump blood into the damaged lungs.

Could your job be hurting your lungs?

Physicians use pulmonary function tests to assess the severity of COPD. These are tests to measure how fast it take a patient to fully exhale air, how much air he can exhale in one second, how much air he can inhale. X-ray and especially CT scans can also be used to assess damage to the lungs.

The arterial blood gases are a series of blood tests to determine how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. As the disease worsens oxygenation goes down and carbon dioxide levels rise. Blood gas abnormalities acutely worsen during COPD exacerbations and often worsen during exercise and sleep.

Because most patients have a significant smoking history, most patients have many of the other illnesses associated with smoking, especially cardiovascular disease. These patients also have high risk for smoking related malignancies.

Unfortunately, poor lung function often interferes with or prevents treatment of the other diseases.


soundoff (2,933 Responses)
  1. Luke Oniel

    I'd like to find out more? I'd love to find out more details.|


    February 7, 2021 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Lecia Rajan

    It's nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people on this subject, but you sound like you know what you're talking about! Thanks|


    February 7, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Lynwood Ciersezwski

    I've been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.|


    February 7, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Bonnie Childrey

    I visited many web sites except the audio quality for audio songs current at this website is really superb.|


    February 7, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Kristopher Bartosz

    I'll immediately take hold of your rss feed as I can not in finding your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly permit me understand so that I could subscribe. Thanks.|


    February 7, 2021 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Kim Mahrer

    Hello Dear, are you truly visiting this web page daily, if so after that you will definitely get good experience.|


    February 7, 2021 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Gerry Crellin

    I pay a quick visit every day a few sites and information sites to read articles or reviews, except this website provides feature based posts.|


    February 7, 2021 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bennett Michelle

    Hi, its fastidious post on the topic of media print, we all be aware of media is a great source of data.|


    February 7, 2021 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Coretta Harde

    Awesome post.|


    February 7, 2021 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Calista Lima

    After looking over a few of the blog articles on your web site, I honestly appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website too and let me know what you think.|


    February 7, 2021 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Bernie Parizek

    Right now it seems like Drupal is the top blogging platform out there right now. (from what I've read) Is that what you're using on your blog?|


    February 8, 2021 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Mae Sunier

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I've truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I'll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!|


    February 8, 2021 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Carol Moench

    Great web site you have here.. It's hard to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!|


    February 8, 2021 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Kent Sprang

    I know this if off topic but I'm looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get set up? I'm assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I'm not very web smart so I'm not 100 certain. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you|


    February 8, 2021 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Genevive Blandford

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group? There's a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thank you|


    February 8, 2021 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. chic sparrow

    We're a gaggle of volunteers and starting a new scheme inside
    our community. Your website offered us with useful info to
    operate on. You possess done a formidable process
    and our entire group could be grateful for your needs.

    my page ... chic sparrow

    February 8, 2021 at 08:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Gaynelle Rockwell

    I'm excited to uncover this site. I wanted to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff in your website.|


    February 8, 2021 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Isiah Ninke

    Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group? There's a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Cheers|


    February 8, 2021 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Sophie Mcleroy

    Hi there, I read your new stuff regularly. Your story-telling style is awesome, keep up the good work!|


    February 8, 2021 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Gilberte Milnik

    Right here is the right blog for anyone who hopes to find out about this topic. You know a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which has been discussed for many years. Excellent stuff, just great!|


    February 8, 2021 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ehtel Esmaili

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!|


    February 8, 2021 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. brad crawford

    After years of working in construction and smoking cigarettes,I was diagnosed with COPD and pulmonary fibrosis. As my illness progressed, I found myself relying on supplemental oxygen around the clock. Even getting out of bed became a challenge.My doctors and specialists recommended a lung transplant, but after researching the pros and cons of such a drastic procedure, I decided to try something less invasive. I contacted multivitamin herbal cure cape town for organic natural treatment you can search for them on google. Following the COPD and pulmonary fibrosis herbal treatment procedure , my lung function has improved dramatically after my first four weeks of the herbal formula .My quality of life has gotten a lot better. I was amazed that I could breathe without any dead air. I no longer need oxygen and look forward to continued improvement because a specialist told me already I have a 97% chance of getting my condition totally due to the herbal treatment effectiveness . If you or someone you love has COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or another chronic lung disease, and would like to see improvements like mine they even guarantee me totally cure once the treatment is done , their website is multivitamincare org Call (or SMS) them : +1 (786) 544-5148 they will put you through on the herbal process .

    February 8, 2021 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. zipper pouch insert

    If some one wishes being updated with most up-to-date
    technologies therefore he has to be pay a visit this site and also be updated daily.

    Here is my page – zipper pouch insert

    February 8, 2021 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Jamal Schweda

    I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!|


    February 8, 2021 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Linh Cosey

    My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!|


    February 8, 2021 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Clarisa Truesdale

    Paragraph writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with after that you can write or else it is complicated to write.|


    February 8, 2021 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Neida Dallmier

    When someone writes an piece of writing he/she maintains the thought of a user in his/her mind that how a user can be aware of it. Thus that's why this post is great. Thanks!|


    February 8, 2021 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Alfredo Tanzer

    It is perfect time to make a few plans for the long run and it's time to be happy. I've learn this put up and if I may I desire to suggest you few fascinating things or tips. Maybe you can write subsequent articles referring to this article. I wish to learn even more things about it!|


    February 8, 2021 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Mee Binion

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up plus the rest of the site is also really good.|


    February 8, 2021 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Rudolph Candia

    With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation? My site has a lot of exclusive content I've either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my authorization. Do you know any techniques to help reduce content from being ripped off? I'd really appreciate it.|


    February 8, 2021 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Lavonne Candee

    This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post. Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!|


    February 8, 2021 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Quentin Benasher

    I'm impressed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that's both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I came across this in my search for something relating to this.|


    February 8, 2021 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Thersa Volkens

    I'm no longer positive where you are getting your information, however good topic. I needs to spend some time finding out more or figuring out more. Thanks for wonderful info I used to be in search of this info for my mission.|


    February 8, 2021 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Lindsay Dariano

    I'm truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Fantastic work!|


    February 8, 2021 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Olive Sington

    Excellent blog here! Also your website loads up very fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol|


    February 8, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. midori travelers notebook passport size

    Very shortly this website is going to be famous among all blog people,
    on account of it's fastidious content

    Also visit my web-site – midori travelers notebook passport size

    February 9, 2021 at 07:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Oscar Kingman

    Hello there! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I'll forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!|


    February 9, 2021 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Nan Hoback

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage? My blog site is in the exact same niche as yours and my users would really benefit from a lot of the information you present here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Many thanks!|


    February 9, 2021 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Junie Brodnax

    Aw, this was a really good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to create a top notch article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and don't seem to get nearly anything done.|


    February 9, 2021 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Tonda Borling

    Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the internet the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think about worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks|


    February 9, 2021 at 07:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Roscoe Wietbrock

    We stumbled over here coming from a different web page and thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so now i'm following you. Look forward to looking into your web page again.|


    February 9, 2021 at 07:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Bobbie Nerio

    This post will help the internet users for setting up new webpage or even a weblog from start to end.|


    February 9, 2021 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Walter Rauco

    What's Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It positively useful and it has helped me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution & aid other users like its helped me. Great job.|


    February 9, 2021 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Vikki Sausedo

    Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your theme. Kudos|


    February 9, 2021 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Wanetta Fatora

    I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post's to be just what I'm looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content for you? I wouldn't mind composing a post or elaborating on some of the subjects you write with regards to here. Again, awesome blog!|


    February 9, 2021 at 10:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Freeman Kraatz

    This is my first time pay a visit at here and i am really happy to read all at single place.|


    February 9, 2021 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Ayesha Lofing

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this subject here on your website.|


    February 9, 2021 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Mandi Garten

    Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with Search Engine Optimization? I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good results. If you know of any please share. Thank you!|


    February 9, 2021 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Mariela Raddle

    Very rapidly this site will be famous among all blog people, due to it's nice posts|


    February 9, 2021 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Hillary Reimold

    Yes! Finally someone writes about keyword1.|


    February 9, 2021 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59

Leave a Reply to Leonida Bogumil


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.