Author | Sandra G. Adams, MD, MS


Managing COPD, part 2: Acute exacerbations

August 01, 2005

Abstract: The standard therapies for acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include short-acting bronchodilators, supplemental oxygen, and systemic corticosteroids. For most patients, an oxygen saturation goal of 90% or greater is appropriate. Bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) is usually beneficial in patients with progressive respiratory acidosis, impending respiratory failure, or markedly increased work of breathing. However, BiPAP should not be used in patients with respiratory failure associated with severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, or sepsis. Systemic corticosteroids are appropriate for moderate to severe acute exacerbations; many experts recommend relatively low doses of prednisone (30 to 40 mg) for 7 to 14 days. Antibiotic therapy is controversial, but evidence supports the use of antibiotics in patients who have at least 2 of the following symptoms: increased dyspnea, increased sputum production, and sputum purulence. (J Respir Dis. 2005;26(8):335-341)

Managing COPD: How to deal with the most common problems

July 01, 2005

Abstract: Although smoking cessation is still the most impor- tant intervention in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a variety of pharmacologic therapies are available to help manage symptoms. Short-acting ß2-agonists and/or ipratropium should be taken as needed, and the use of additional therapies is based on the severity of disease. Patients with moderate or severe COPD should regularly take 1 or more long-acting bronchodilators. The long-acting ß2-agonists salmeterol and formoterol have been demonstrated to improve health-related quality of life. Newer therapies include the long-acting anticholinergic tiotropium and a salmeterol-fluticasone combination. These agents improve forced expiratory volume in 1 second and may reduce the rate of acute exacerbations. For patients with moderate to very severe COPD, participation in a pulmonary rehabilitation program can improve health status, quality of life, and exercise tolerance. (J Respir Dis. 2005;26(7):284-289)