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New Guidelines for Spotting, Treating COPD Released
Date:8/2/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Four of the world's leading pulmonary associations have issued new guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, one of the world's leading killers.

While the recommendations are based on more recent studies of the disorder, they differ little from previous guidelines and are meant largely to emphasize how critical it is to manage the disease to reduce hospitalizations, exacerbations and deaths, said lead author Dr. Amir Qaseem, director of clinical policy in the medical education division of the American College of Physicians, one of the four sponsoring organizations.

"We're repeating the message. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the third leading cause of death and . . . the number keeps going up. In 2007, it was the fifth leading cause of death," said Qaseem. "Many patients are still not getting the appropriate care."

The main advice of pulmonologists worldwide is not surprising: quit smoking, especially if you've already been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking is the leading risk factor for COPD.

"Smoking cessation remains key," said Dr. Sandhya Khurana, an assistant professor of medicine in the pulmonary and critical care division at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

And lung damage, once it occurs, is irreversible, said Khurana, who was not involved with the study that appears in the Aug. 2 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

COPD is caused by inflammation and constriction of the air passages. Symptoms include trouble breathing, shortness of breath with physical activity, chronic cough and wheezing.

The authors recommended that spirometry should only be used to diagnose COPD in patients who already have symptoms. Spirometry is a pulmonary function test which measures how much air a person expels w
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