Targeting the COPD exacerbation

Respir Med. 2008 Jun;102 Suppl 1:S3-15. doi: 10.1016/S0954-6111(08)70003-9.


Exacerbations of COPD have a profound detrimental effect on the patient and impose a significant burden on healthcare resource utilization. Prevention and treatment of exacerbations are major objectives of the clinical management of COPD. For this approach to be successful, clinicians must combine both pharmacologic approaches and non-pharmacologic strategies aimed at improving the patient's disease management. Non-pharmacologic approaches include those that can be incorporated into the office setting as well as intervention strategies that are integrated into the lifelong management of COPD. These strategies include developing a partnership with the patient and their social supports, encouraging and facilitating smoking cessation, immunizations, proper use of supplemental oxygen, and most importantly, giving the patient the tools to manage their illness appropriately. Moreover there is clear evidence of an irrevocable decline in pulmonary function after each exacerbation, usually resulting in reduced physical activity and impaired skeletal muscle function. Not surprisingly, pulmonary rehabilitation after such events has been shown to prevent relapse, improve survival and enhance patients' overall function after acute exacerbations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cholinergic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Smoking Cessation


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Cholinergic Antagonists