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Diagnosing COPD

The diagnosis of COPD depends on thinking of it as a cause of breathlessness or cough. The diagnosis is suspected on the basis of symptoms and signs and supported by spirometry.

Areas for Future Research

The GDG recognises that there is a large amount of ongoing research activity in many aspects of the management of COPD. The evidence tables also highlight that there is a large volume of research that is already relevant to the COPD guidelines. Nevertheless a large number of studies were rejected because of methodological limitations and as well as identifying specific areas for future research the GDG concluded that there was a need to make some general recommendations about the design of studies on the management of COPD.

Managing stable COPD

COPD is a heterogeneous disease that affects different patients in different ways. Some patients may be more troubled by breathlessness, others may develop ankle swelling and others may be experiencing frequent hospital admissions. The management of an individual patient's disease should be guided by the symptoms and disability that they experience. At different times in the natural history of their disease different features may predominate and their management will change to reflect this. COPD also has effects outside the lung for example on peripheral muscles and may lead to mood or cognitive changes which should also be assessed.

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