Feature Article

COPD management: an integrated approach

Ian Yang, Christine Jenkins



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has major impacts on quality of life and mortality in a large number of people in Australia. The Australian COPD-X guidelines advocate a stepwise approach for early diagnosis and effective management of patients with COPD involving nonpharmacological and pharmacological interventions, which are outlined in this article. This is the first in a series of articles on COPD.

Key Points

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects about two million people in Australia, if mild disease is included, and this prevalence is expected to more than double by 2050.
  • COPD is a clinical diagnosis confirmed by spirometric evidence of airflow limitation that is not fully reversible.
  • A multidimensional assessment approach, including spirometry and symptom assessment, has been advocated by international guidelines and expert clinicians for assessment of COPD severity.
  • A stepwise approach to managing patients with COPD involves risk reduction (especially smoking cessation), promotion of physical activity, optimisation of weight and nutrition, prevention of infection by vaccinations, pulmonary rehabilitation, and use of inhaled medications to treat airflow obstruction and reduce exacerbations.
  • Addressing comorbidities and psychosocial needs, and providing self-management education and action plans, can help patients to cope better with this chronic lung disease and reduce its impact.