Feature Article

Asthma, COPD and when they coexist

Peter Wark, Peter Frith



Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are complex and heterogeneous inflammatory diseases of the airways. This review examines the impact that recent advances in our understanding of these diseases are having on the way we manage these disorders.

Key Points

  • Asthma and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) are umbrella terms that describe disorders of the airways with diverse inflammatory pathways and pathophysiology.
  • Recent advances in the understanding of the immunopathology of asthma have led to the emergence of biological agents that more precisely target disease pathways, but will require a more precise understanding of those dysfunctional pathways.
  • There are areas where the pathology and expression of airways disease in asthma and COPD overlap.
  • The overlap between asthma and COPD presents important challenges in diagnosis as well as management.

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