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Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2002 Aug 31;146(35):1631-5.

[Medical maintenance treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)].

[Article in Dutch]

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Academisch Ziekenhuis, afd. Longziekten, Postbus 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic disorder of the lungs and airways that imposes a huge socioeconomic burden on both the patients and society. COPD is the only major chronic disease for which both the incidence and mortality are still rising worldwide. From the literature evidence-based insights can be obtained about maintenance medication for reducing symptoms and disease progression. Both anticholinergics and beta 2-sympathicomimetics have been proven to be effective bronchodilators for COPD, even though many patients fail to respond. This is confounded by the fact that a symptomatic response is not always reflected by an objective improvement in lung function. These substances do not have a favourable effect on the progressive deterioration of lung function. Theophyllines have limited effectiveness and the benefit-to-risk ratio is unfavourable. It has now been demonstrated that inhaled corticosteroids have no effect on the loss of lung function, and their prescription rates in patients with COPD should therefore be reduced. A reduction in exacerbation frequency seems to exist in some studies, yet this has not yet been conclusively demonstrated. Acetylcysteine has been proven to reduce exacerbation frequency. There is no place for maintenance therapy with antibiotics.

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