Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common disease which is preventable and treatable, and it is defined by specific symptoms and airway obstruction which is not fully reversible. Patients with COPD suffer from persistent respiratory symptoms and breathlessness. This is usually caused by significant exposure to toxic particles or gases. The reason for the chronic airflow limitation is a mixture of small airways disease (e.g., obstructive bronchiolitis) and parenchymal destruction (emphysema).

Emphysema is characterized by an irreversible enlargement and destruction of the alveoli. Usually, emphysema is accompanied by airway obstruction. 

Globally, about 5% of all deaths were caused by COPD in 2015. Over 90% of these deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries. 

According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) estimates (2004), currently 64 million people have COPD and 3 million people have died from COPD. WHO predicts that COPD will become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.

The disease cannot be cured, but the appropriate treatment can relieve the symptoms and improve the patient’s life.


Risk factors for developing COPD, according to GOLD Guidelines 2017:

  • Tobacco smoke (primary risk factor*)
  • Indoor air pollution
  • Occupational exposures
  • Outdoor air pollution
  • Genetic factors
  • Age and gender
  • Lung growth and development
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Asthma and airway hyper-reactivity
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Infections
* According to WHO (