Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Managing acute exacerbations
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an international health problem. In the United Kingdom it is one of the most common causes of acute hospital admission, accounting for 10% of all medical admissions and more than half of the £800-930 m spent annually on the management of COPD.123 By the year 2030, COPD is projected to be the fourth leading cause of mortality worldwide.4 Normally slowly progressive, the disease course of COPD is punctuated by episodes of acute deterioration in respiratory status, called exacerbations or “lung attacks,” which require emergency care. These events are of critical importance in the clinical course of COPD and are responsible for much of the morbidity, mortality, healthcare costs, and reduced health related quality of life attributable to this prevalent condition.5678 Therapeutic strategies targeted to control these events and prevent their recurrence are therefore of critical importance.
An acute exacerbation is defined as a sustained