Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a condition resulting from environmentally
induced lung damage e.g. cigarette smoking and air pollution which, over time, causes
individuals to suffer from symptoms including chronic cough and progressive breathlessness.
In the UK COPD is predominantly caused by cigarette smoking which may have occurred decades
before the symptoms appear and the disease is diagnosed.
The aim of this study is to identify those COPD patients who currently have milder disease
and to investigate whether a detailed, medical assessment which has time to assess all
aspects of their care will improve their lung health and general wellbeing.
COPD is a major cause of disability and death in the UK, with around 835,000 people currently
diagnosed with the disease and an estimated further two million people who suffer from
symptoms but do not yet have a diagnosis(1). Approximately 25,000 people each year die from
COPD in England and Wales (2), with the disease accounting for 5.4% of all deaths in England
and Wales in 2013 (3). Predominantly in its later, more severe stages, COPD causes an
enormous symptom burden to patients, and accounts for up to half of emergency admissions to
already overstretched hospital services in England (4).
People with COPD, with a past history of smoking, are at higher risk of other medical
problems such as heart disease and stroke(5). Being breathless and having multiple physical
health problems can also lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression(5).
This means it can be challenging to provide this group of people enough time to fully assess
and treat all their problems, particularly due to current pressure on the length of GP
Whilst COPD is treatable, it is not curable, and emphasis on early diagnosis and intervention
provided a key part of the strategy for COPD published by NHS England in 2012(6). With early
diagnosis, the opportunity is provided to intervene with the aim of improving symptoms and
exercise tolerance, reducing the risk of exacerbations, slowing deterioration and prolonging
quality of life.