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. ChM62MPt0

    564281 205078hey there, your site is cheap. We do thank you for work 967820

    April 29, 2021 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. FWdoGLrZxb

    homework help oklahoma essay buy cv writing service yorkshire homework help english online

    April 29, 2021 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. herbal erection pills

    when does erectile dysfunction happen https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile disorder treatment

    April 29, 2021 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. buying canadian cialis

    cialis, sale, canadian pharm. https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian pharmacy generic cialis

    April 29, 2021 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. dapoxetine

    priligy tablets uk dapoxetine tablet

    April 29, 2021 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. aralen

    chloroquine phosphate vs chloroquine sulphate https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloraquine

    April 29, 2021 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Warner Gundrum

    Assume that you are working as a computer technician for a company with a large network. You are assigned to determine what is wrong with an employee?s computer and repair it. You suspect that the computer is not properly connected to the network. Describe the troubleshooting steps you would take to test your theory that the computer is not physically or logically connected to the network, and describe how you would resolve the resolve the various reasons for the computer not connecting to the network..


    April 29, 2021 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. dapoxetine

    priligy dapoxetine usa

    April 29, 2021 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Hiram Tambunga

    Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. Nevertheless think of if you added some great photos or video clips to give your posts more, "pop"! Your content is excellent but with pics and video clips, this blog could undeniably be one of the best in its niche. Awesome blog!|


    April 30, 2021 at 01:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Virgie Gembe

    Hello! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thanks a lot!|


    April 30, 2021 at 01:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Nelia Tersigni

    If you wish for to increase your experience only keep visiting this site and be updated with the hottest news posted here.|


    April 30, 2021 at 01:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Rachele Hatheway

    What i don't understood is in reality how you're not really a lot more smartly-liked than you may be right now. You are very intelligent. You realize thus significantly with regards to this subject, made me individually consider it from so many numerous angles. Its like women and men aren't fascinated unless it is one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs great. At all times deal with it up!|


    April 30, 2021 at 01:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Marilyn Polyak

    What's up mates, its fantastic piece of writing about educationand fully defined, keep it up all the time.|


    April 30, 2021 at 01:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Francesco Nevala

    Hello! I could have sworn I've been to this site before but after browsing through some of the articles I realized it's new to me. Regardless, I'm definitely happy I came across it and I'll be book-marking it and checking back often!|


    April 30, 2021 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. avanafil

    avana avanafil stendra

    April 30, 2021 at 02:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Joi Gailes

    I love what you guys tend to be up too. This sort of clever work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I've included you guys to my own blogroll.|


    April 30, 2021 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Latonya Shroeder

    Hi! I could have sworn I've been to this blog before but after looking at many of the articles I realized it's new to me. Anyhow, I'm certainly pleased I found it and I'll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!|


    April 30, 2021 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Loren Fralic

    I seriously love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as I'm trying to create my own personal site and would love to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Many thanks!|


    April 30, 2021 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Beulah Mcneece

    Hey there! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!|


    April 30, 2021 at 03:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Lynell Strevell

    No matter if some one searches for his vital thing, therefore he/she desires to be available that in detail, thus that thing is maintained over here.|


    April 30, 2021 at 03:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Refugio Mittelstedt

    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 internet savvy so I'm not 100 positive. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Kudos|


    April 30, 2021 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. erectile dysfunction drugs

    erectile dysfunction prognosis https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile medications

    April 30, 2021 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Genaro Sommar

    Everyone loves what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and coverage! Keep up the superb works guys I've you guys to my personal blogroll.|


    April 30, 2021 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Drema Imeson

    Hi there to every single one, it's really a pleasant for me to go to see this website, it consists of precious Information.|


    April 30, 2021 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Summer Leaming

    That is a very good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!|


    April 30, 2021 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Irwin Mention

    Terrific post but I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic? I'd be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Cheers!|


    April 30, 2021 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Ferdinand Stefl

    Outstanding quest there. What happened after? Thanks!|


    April 30, 2021 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. canadian pharmacy for cialis

    canadian viagra cialis https://canadacialisstore.com/ cialis viagra combination canadian pharmacy

    April 30, 2021 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. kampus Terbaik di Lampung

    If you wish for to increase your familiarity simply keep visiting this web page and be updated with the latest gossip posted

    April 30, 2021 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. uvyunZCZbp

    buy nothing day persuasive essay persuasive essay purchase homework help make money 5th grade science homework help

    April 30, 2021 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. canadian generic pills

    average perscription pills taken by 65 year old canadian? https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian pills online

    April 30, 2021 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. UQJAQjzGMI

    dissertation help in atlanta ga essay on advantages of doing homework primary homework help river nile importance of doing math homework

    April 30, 2021 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. 院線版護膚品

    hello there and thank you for your information – I have
    definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertise several technical points using
    this website, since I experienced to reload the
    website lots of times previous to I could get it to load correctly.
    I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times
    will often affect your placement in google and can damage your high-quality score
    if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my email and can look out for much more
    of your respective intriguing content. Ensure that you update this again very soon.

    April 30, 2021 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. canadian weight loss pills

    canadian diet pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian generic pills

    April 30, 2021 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. buy chloroquine phosphate

    chloroquine tab https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine without prescription

    April 30, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. erectile dysfunction causes

    how to erectile dysfunction https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ best erectile

    April 30, 2021 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Keneth Quilliam

    If some one wants to be updated with most recent technologies afterward he must be go to see this web site and be up to date every day.|


    May 1, 2021 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Scott Niethamer

    I was very pleased to discover this website. I want to to thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to check out new stuff on your web site.|


    May 1, 2021 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Romeo Villanvera

    certainly like your web-site however you need to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very bothersome to tell the reality however I'll certainly come again again.|


    May 1, 2021 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Hermina Papadakis

    Hi there everyone, it's my first pay a visit at this web page, and article is in fact fruitful in favor of me, keep up posting these types of posts.|

    May 1, 2021 at 00:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Grisel Abrell

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog. A great read. I'll definitely be back.|


    May 1, 2021 at 00:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. dapoxetine

    dapoxetine for sale in australia buy avanafil canada

    May 1, 2021 at 02:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Buddy Corin

    Howdy! I'm at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the superb work!|


    May 1, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Jeanette Kerzer

    Howdy are using WordPress for your site platform? I'm new to the blog world but I'm trying to get started and create my own. Do you require any html coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!|


    May 1, 2021 at 02:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Dane Jendrick

    Undeniably consider that that you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the internet the simplest factor to be mindful of. I say to you, I certainly get irked even as other people think about concerns that they just don't realize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and outlined out the entire thing without having side-effects , other folks can take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thank you|


    May 1, 2021 at 02:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Willian Yasuda

    Good day! I could have sworn I've been to your blog before but after browsing through a few of the articles I realized it's new to me. Regardless, I'm definitely delighted I found it and I'll be bookmarking it and checking back often!|


    May 1, 2021 at 02:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Madeleine Harner

    It's appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I've read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or advice. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read more things about it!|


    May 1, 2021 at 02:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. canadian customs pills vitamins

    canadian customs pills vitamins https://canadapillstorex.com/ average perscription pills taken by 65 year old canadian?

    May 1, 2021 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Selma Setera

    Fabulous, what a blog it is! This blog presents useful facts to us, keep it up.|


    May 1, 2021 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Frieda Bleimehl

    Remarkable! Its in fact amazing paragraph, I have got much clear idea regarding from this paragraph.|


    May 1, 2021 at 08:12 | 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 Gregory Muehlberger


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.