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An effective COPD management plan includes four components: (1) assess and monitor disease; (2) reduce risk factors; (3) manage stable COPD; (4) manage exacerbations.
The goals of effective COPD management are to:

  • Prevent disease progression
  • Relieve symptoms
  • Improve exercise tolerance
  • Improve health status
  • Prevent and treat complications
  • Prevent and treat exacerbations
  • Reduce mortality

These goals should be reached with a minimum of side effects from treatment, a particular challenge in patients with COPD where co morbidities are common. The extent to which these goals can be realized varies with each individual, and some treatments will produce benefits in more than one area.
Reduction of therapy once symptom control has been achieved is not normally possible in COPD. Further deterioration of lung function usually requires the progressive introduction of more treatments, both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic, to attempt to limit the impact of these changes. Acute exacerbations of signs and symptoms, a hallmark of COPD, impair patients' quality of life and decrease their health status. Appropriate treatment and measures to prevent further exacerbations should be implemented as quickly as possible.