Orginal Publication Date
MCV/Q, Medical College of Virginia Quarterly
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has become one of the more common problems which face physicians both in inpatient and outpatient settings. The incidence of the disease and increase in mortality have been documented in a number of studies as have other lung diseases, indicating a general rise in pulmonary disorders over the past several decades. Two types of disease are classified under the heading of chronic pulmonary disease: chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is defined as a clinical syndrome of cough and sputum production for three consecutive months over two consecutive years, and pulmonary emphysema is defined as the histological expansion and destruction of the terminal respiratory units, with loss of structural elements. The etiologies associated with these diseases probably are multiple and are beyond the scope of this discussion; however, two of the causal factors are a hereditary predisposition such as is seen in alpha-antitrypsin deficiency and the continued irritation of respiratory tissues by various air pollutants including tobacco smoke.
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