Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of disability and mortality and is significant strain on the healthcare industry, creating personal and financial burdens that must be addressed. However, according to a recent article published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, evolving scientific evidence on the natural history and clinical course of COPD has fueled a fundamental shift in how clinicians treat the disease.
The article, written by Richard Russell, Antonio Anzueto and Idelle Weisman, states that “the goals of therapy for COPD are no longer confined to controlling symptoms, reducing exacerbations, and maintaining quality of life.” Slowing disease progression is now the main goal of therapy and is becoming an achievable aim.
This shift is a result of multiple findings, including the emergence of data highlighting the heterogeneity in rate of lung function decline, which has altered perceptions of disease progression and understanding of strategies for the management of stable disease.
“A challenge for the future will be to capitalize on these observations by improving the identification and diagnosis of patients with COPD early in the course of their disease, so that effective interventions can be introduced before the more advanced, disabling and costly stages of the disease,” researchers add.
Further, researchers examine the latest understanding of COPD to evaluate the current and potential approaches to long-term treatment. This includes treatments such as early, effective, and prolonged bronchodilation to slow the decline in lung function and reduce the frequency of exacerbations.