FRIDAY, Sept. 14, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Experts have devised new standards for the diagnosis, management and prevention of a widespread, deadly lung ailment -- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD affects 15 percent to 25 percent of adults over the age of 40 and is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It's expected to become the fifth leading cause of death worldwide by 2020.
Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are among the most common risk factors for COPD in the developed world. In developing countries, major risk factors include long-term exposure to smoke from indoor cooking and heating fires.
Now, a report released Sept. 14 by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease is setting the standard for caring for COPD patients.
The new guidelines -- published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine -- emphasize the importance of proper diagnosis, assessment of disease severity, and the need for a better understanding of co-existing conditions in order to improve treatment of COPD.
"This is an absolutely up-to-date summary of all the available evidence on the diagnosis, management and prevention of COPD," report lead author Dr. Klaus Rabe, of the department of pulmonology at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, said in a prepared statement.
"One of the most important points is that we now say COPD is preventable and treatable," Rabe said. "There are steps we can take to prevent it, and it is no longer viewed with therapeutic nihilism."
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about COPD.