Long-term exposure to lung irritants that damage the lungs and the airways usually is the cause of COPD.
In the United States, the most common irritant that causes COPD is cigarette smoke. Pipe, cigar, and other types of tobacco smoke also can cause COPD, especially if the smoke is inhaled.
Breathing in secondhand smoke, air pollution, or chemical fumes or dust from the environment or workplace also can contribute to COPD. (Secondhand smoke is smoke in the air from other people smoking.)
Rarely, a genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may play a role in causing COPD. People who have this condition have low levels of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT)—a protein made in the liver.
Having a low level of the AAT protein can lead to lung damage and COPD if you're exposed to smoke or other lung irritants. If you have this condition and smoke, COPD can worsen very quickly.
Although uncommon, some people who have asthma can develop COPD. Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Treatment usually can reverse the inflammation and narrowing. However, if not, COPD can develop.
The NHLBI "Grand Opportunity" Exome Sequencing Project
In celebration of National COPD Awareness Month and World COPD Day, the NHLBI COPD Learn More Breathe Better® campaign, along with campaign partners is hosting a Twitter Chat on Tuesday, November 19 at 2 p.m. EST. The Twitter Chat will engage the COPD community and those at risk to talk about the disease, its signs and symptoms, and treatment options. Go to twitter.com. and search for #BreatheBetter2013 to join the chat.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for COPD, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
November 15, 2013
NIH survey identifies barriers to effective patient-provider dialogue about COPD
Lack of communication between patients and health care providers about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) remains a major barrier to diagnosis of this disease, according to the results of a Web-based survey released today by the National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.
Join the NHLBI and the COPD Learn More Breathe Better® campaign as we raise awareness about COPD and encourage those at risk to discuss symptoms with a doctor.
If you have COPD or think you might be at risk, you can take steps to make breathing easier and live a longer and more active life. Get a simple breathing test and talk with your doctor or health care provider about treatment options.
The NHLBI developed the national COPD Learn More Breathe Better® campaign to increase awareness of COPD. The campaign aims to help people with COPD and those at risk get diagnosed early, understand their treatment options, and live better with the disease.
Learn more about key campaign events, activities, and resources.
November 20, 2013
Gary H. Gibbons
New NHLBI Program Trains Scientists to Bring More Science Out of the Lab and into the Patient Care Marketplace
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.