Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive long‐term lung disease that involves inflammation and thickening of the airways.¹ Over time the disease makes it more difficult to breathe because the airways are obstructed, restricting the flow of air in and out of the lungs.¹

When this happens less oxygen reaches the blood, and it becomes harder to get rid of the waste gas carbon dioxide.¹

COPD is made up of two chronic conditions: chronic bronchitis which is a persistent cough with mucus, and emphysema which is characterised by the destruction of lung tissue.¹

Causes of COPD

The main cause of COPD is tobacco smoking, with smokers at a higher risk of respiratory problems and mortality.2 Other risk factors include exposure to air pollution, and occupational exposure to dust and chemicals.3

How common is COPD?

According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization4 65 million people across the globe are living with moderate to severe COPD. Over the next decade deaths from COPD are projected to increase by more than 30%4 and by 2030 it is expected to become the third leading cause of death worldwide.5

COPD diagnosis and treatment

COPD diagnosis and treatment

Your doctor will diagnose COPD based on your symptoms and medical history.


  • 01

    Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management and Prevention of COPD, Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) 2014.

  • 02

    Kohansal R, Martinez‐Camblor P, Agustı A, Buist S, Mannino DM, Soriano JB. The Natural History of Chronic Airflow Obstruction Revisited: An Analysis of the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2009:180:3–10

  • 03

    Mannino DM, Buist AS. ‘Global burden of COPD: risk factors, prevalence, and future trends’. The Lancet 2007:370:765‐773.

  • 04

    WHO: Burden of COPD

  • 05

    World Health Organization. ‘World Health Statistics 2008’. Global Health Observatory (GHO).