The history of COPD

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2006;1(1):3-14. doi: 10.2147/copd.2006.1.1.3.


The evolution of knowledge concerning COPD and its components--emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthmatic bronchitis--covers 200 years. The stethoscope and spirometer became important early tools in diagnosis and assessment. Spirometry remains the most effective means of identification and assessment of the course of COPD and responses to therapy, and is grossly underused for this purpose. Knowledge of the pathogenesis, course and prognosis, and new approaches to therapy have dramatically improved our understanding of this important clinical entity. Smoking cessation improves the early course of disease. Long-term oxygen improves the length and quality of life in selected patients with hypoxemia. Surgery benefits a select few. Today, COPD is a steadily growing global healthcare problem, with increasing morbidity and mortality. Early identification and prevention, and treatment of emerging stages of disease through smoking cessation and a growing number of bronchoactive drugs promises to change the outcome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Congresses as Topic / history*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Guinea Pigs
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Lung Transplantation
  • Male
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / history
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / history*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / surgery
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / history
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / physiopathology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / history
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Spirometry / history