Purpose of review Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is often considered to be a disease in which an inevitable decline in lung function results in increasing dyspnea and deteriorating quality of life. This review summarizes recent data that calls this classic paradigm into question. Studies evaluating the effects of chronic sputum production, physical activity, and inhaled medications on quality of life and prognosis are also discussed. Recent findings Chronic sputum production and level of dyspnea contribute at least as much to impairment of quality of life and prognosis as does abnormal lung function. An accelerated decline in FEV 1 occurs in only half of the patients who develop COPD. Current pharmacotherapy has been shown to moderate disease progression and quality of life, although the effects are lost when inhaled corticosteroids are discontinued. Declining physical activity begins early in the course of COPD, but increasing activity levels result in improved quality of life and a slower decline in lung function. Summary Symptoms and activity levels are as important as measuring FEV 1 in determining disease severity, quality of life, and prognosis of COPD. Therapies exist that moderate the course of the disease, and small sustained increases in physical activity may slow physical deterioration and improve health-related quality of life.
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- health-related quality of life
- physical activity level
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine