Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): best practice guide

This document is for healthcare professionals and patients to show how this condition could be best managed from the unscheduled care perspective.

2. The Context for this Work

What is COPD?

COPD is a long-term respiratory condition characterised by chronic obstruction of lung airflow that interferes with normal breathing and is not fully reversible ( WHO Definition [4] ). The vast majority of COPD cases are smoking-related, however there are other less common causes such as alpha-one antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder that causes COPD in younger people and which affects both smokers and non-smokers; and exposure to certain dusts and fumes. COPD is characterised by frequent and sometimes preventable exacerbations of the condition which often result in admissions to hospital. It is the third most common reason for hospital admission in Scotland and has high readmission rates.

There is no known 'cure' for COPD, focus therefore has to be on stable management of the disease, reducing the frequency of exacerbations, and optimising lung health by regular exercise and pulmonary rehabilitation. It's also important that the psychological aspects of COPD as a long-term chronic condition are catered for and managed appropriately.


Email: Syed Kerbalai

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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