Improving dyspnea in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: optimal treatment strategies

Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2006 May;3(3):270-5. doi: 10.1513/pats.200601-002SF.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common disease with a global impact in terms of morbidity and mortality. Patients usually consult their doctor because of symptoms, and among those, dyspnea at rest or under exercise is one of the most common. The sensation of dyspnea is experienced differently among individuals with COPD and may be based on diverse factors, such as muscle fatigue, patient perception, or trapped volumes. Treatment algorithms for COPD emphasize a stepwise approach to therapy depending on the severity of the disease, which, for reasons of convenience, is primarily based on spirometric impairment. Drugs that alter bronchial smooth muscle tone and increase inspiratory capacity have clinical efficacy for the dyspneic patient, most likely based on their effect on lung function, whereas the effects of antiinflammatory therapy with inhaled corticosteroids is more difficult to explain. The following short review aims to give an overview of the available clinical information of clinical trials performed over the last couple of years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Albuterol / administration & dosage
  • Albuterol / analogs & derivatives
  • Cholinergic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Dyspnea / drug therapy*
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Recovery of Function
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Salmeterol Xinafoate
  • Scopolamine Derivatives / therapeutic use
  • Tiotropium Bromide
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Cholinergic Antagonists
  • Scopolamine Derivatives
  • Salmeterol Xinafoate
  • Albuterol
  • Tiotropium Bromide