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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of disability and mortality. Caring for patients with COPD, particularly those with advanced disease who experience frequent exacerbations, places a significant burden on health care budgets, and there is a global need to reduce the financial and personal burden of COPD. Evolving scientific evidence on the natural history and clinical course of COPD has fuelled a fundamental shift in our approach to the disease. The emergence of data highlighting the heterogeneity in rate of lung function decline has altered our perception of disease progression in COPD and our understanding of appropriate strategies for the management of stable disease. These data have demonstrated that early, effective, and prolonged bronchodilation has the potential to slow the rate of decline in lung function and to reduce the frequency of exacerbations that contribute to functional decline. The goals of therapy for COPD are no longer confined to controlling symptoms, reducing exacerbations, and maintaining quality of life, and slowing disease progression is now becoming an achievable aim. A challenge for the future will be to capitalize on these observations by improving the identification and diagnosis of patients with COPD early in the course of their disease, so that effective interventions can be introduced before the more advanced, disabling, and costly stages of the disease. Here we critically review emerging data that underpin the advances in our understanding of the clinical course and management of COPD, and evaluate both current and emerging pharmacologic options for effective maintenance treatment.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis

Publication Date





47 - 61


COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, early treatment, long-acting bronchodilator, Bronchodilator Agents, Early Diagnosis, Forecasting, Humans, Lung, Patient Care Management, Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive, Severity of Illness Index, Treatment Outcome