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J Manag Care Pharm. 2005 Jul;11(6 Suppl A):S8-11; quiz S20-2.

COPD: clinical significance of early diagnosis.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, 4500 S. Lancaster Rd., Dallas, TX 75216, USA.



To explain the differential diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and how COPD can be distinguished in patients who present with complaints of dyspnea, (shortness of breath on exertion), with the goal of improving earlier diagnosis.


It is important to differentiate COPD from other diagnoses when adult patients present with dyspnea. There are several key diagnostic indicators for COPD, including, most notably, a history of smoking and objective lung-function measurements. COPD remains an underdiagnosed disease, chiefly in its milder and more treatable form. The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD)- defined standards for COPD management consist of 4 components: (1) assess and monitor disease, (2) reduce risk factors, (3) manage stable COPD through education and nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic means, and (4) manage exacerbations.


Updated standards for diagnosis and treatment-targeted pharmacologic agents have provided physicians and health care workers with more specific and targeted treatment modalities for early detection and treatment of this progressive disease. Early detection and more accurate diagnosis are key in improving outcomes and altering the progression of the disease.

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