Treatment of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Lancet. 2004;364(9436):791-802. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(04)16941-9.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a readily diagnosable disorder that responds to treatment. Smoking cessation can reduce symptoms and prevent progression of disease. Bronchodilator therapy is key in improvement of lung function. Three classes of bronchodilators-beta agonists, anticholinergics, and theophylline-are available and can be used individually or in combination. Inhaled glucocorticoids can also improve airflow and can be combined with bronchodilators. Inhaled glucocorticoids, in addition, might reduce exacerbation frequency and severity as might some bronchodilators. Effective use of pharmacotherapy in COPD needs integration with a rehabilitation programme and successful treatment of co-morbidities, including depression and anxiety. Treatment for stable COPD can improve the function and quality of life of many patients, could reduce admissions to hospital, and has been suggested to improve survival.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology
  • Smoking Cessation / methods


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines
  • Nicotine