Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in over 16s: diagnosis and management

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Key priorities for implementation

Diagnose COPD

  • A diagnosis of COPD should be considered in patients over the age of 35 who have a risk factor (generally smoking) and who present with exertional breathlessness, chronic cough, regular sputum production, frequent winter ‘bronchitis’ or wheeze
  • The presence of airflow obstruction should be confirmed by performing post-bronchodilator spirometry. All health professionals involved in the care of people with COPD should have access to spirometry and be competent in the interpretation of the results

Stop smoking

  • Encouraging patients with COPD to stop smoking is one of the most important components of their management. All COPD patients still smoking, regardless of age, should be encouraged to stop, and offered help to do so, at every opportunity

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