Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, with exacerbations contributing strongly to the overall severity and burden of disease at the individual level. Many patients with COPD are managed predominantly in the primary care setting; therefore, primary care physicians (PCPs) must be aware of and understand the causes, effects, and management of COPD exacerbations. This review offers practical information about how exacerbations are defined in the treatment setting, pathogenic and environmental causes, options for exacerbation treatment and prevention, and suggestions for improving care in the clinic. Exacerbations have a strong negative effect on patients and are associated with an increased risk of further exacerbations and decreases in lung function. Thus, it is important that exacerbations not requiring hospitalization be identified and confidently managed in the clinical setting. Understanding treatment options for acute exacerbations and maintenance treatment to prevent future exacerbations may help PCPs better understand what they can do to support their patients. This review aims to provide useful guidance for PCPs to identify exacerbations and adjust their practice for optimal management of exacerbations in patients with COPD. It also aims to encourage PCPs that they have an important task in integrating effective COPD management into the primary care setting.
- Primary care
ASJC Scopus subject areas