Management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations in Internal Medicine

  • Gelorma Belmonte |
  • Marilena Muratori
  • Paolo Leandri
  • Angelo Pasquale
  • Massimo Reta
  • Roberto Nardi


Introduction: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the second leading cause of hospitalization in Internal Medicine departments in Italy and the fourth leading cause of death all over the word. By 2020, COPD will be the third leading cause of death and the fifth leading cause of disability. It is — along with chronic congestive heart failure — one of the most common causes of unscheduled hospital readmissions, and as such it represents a significant economic burden for the health-care system. Exacerbations of COPD are important events in the natural history of this prevalent condition.
Discussion: This review provides a comprehensive state-of-the-art look at prevention and management of COPD exacerbations. Treatment of these episodes has to be tailored to the severity of the clinical presentation. We now have a wide range of therapeutic available options, based on the results of clinical trials. Management of the acute event should include the necessary measures (mainly the administration of inhaled short-acting bronchodilators, inhaled or oral corticosteroids, and antibiotics), with or without oxygen and ventilator support.
Conclusions: To improve the management of COPD exacerbations, the focus of care must be shifted from the episodic acute complications to their systematic prevention. The management of COPD, which is often associated with multiple co-morbidities, is complex and requires a tailored, multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach. Integrated care for COPD also requires that patients be informed about their condition, that they participate actively in their care, and that they have easy access to the necessary health-care services.


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Health Management
COPD exacerbations, Management, Diagnostic testing.
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How to Cite
Belmonte, G., Muratori, M., Leandri, P., Pasquale, A., Reta, M., & Nardi, R. (2013). Management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations in Internal Medicine. Italian Journal of Medicine, 5(3), 199-214.