December 10th 2007
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality and a considerable drain on health care resources in the industrialized world. In some patients the disease is inherited, but the vast majority of cases are caused by cigarette smoking. Recognizing the signs and symptoms and understanding the disease progression will facilitate a timely diagnosis. Although the disease is incurable, encouraging patients to stop smoking and providing supplemental oxygen can enhance survival. Significant advances in management as outlined by the authors notwithstanding, efforts to reduce the prevalence of cigarette smoking hold the most promise for reducing the disease burden and associated costs.