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Family physicians and primary care providers play an important role in the diagnosis and management of COPD. A diagnosis of COPD should be considered in adults with shortness of breath, with or without symptoms of cough and sputum production. Also, risk factors other than cigarette smoking history are important. Ten to 20 percent of cases may be due to environmental and occupational exposures. Pulmonary function testing is useful for determining the severity of COPD and distinguishing from asthma. Therapies are effective. Proactive treatment can improve the quality of life for patients with COPD.
Materials and information are available through NHLBI to help your patients and fellow health care providers.