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Recommendations for the Management of COPD*

Gary T. Ferguson, MD, FCCP
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*From the Botsford Pulmonary Associates, Farmington Hills, and Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.

Correspondence to: Gary T. Ferguson, MD, FCCP, Botsford Pulmonary Associates, 28080 Grand River Ave, Suite 306N, Farmington Hills, MI 48336



Chest. 2000;117(2_suppl):23S-28S. doi:10.1378/chest.117.2_suppl.23S
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Three sets of guidelines for the management of COPD that are widely recognized (from the European Respiratory Society [ERS], American Thoracic Society [ATS], and British Thoracic Society [BTS]) are reviewed and compared. None of the documents uses classic evidence-based documentation, and, in many instances, the recommendations are empiric because of a lack of scientific evidence. Overall, there is strong agreement between the documents. All three guidelines recommend inhaled bronchodilators as first-line therapy. Anticholinergics are noted to be well tolerated, although potential problems with β2-agonists are mentioned. The ERS and BTS suggest that inhaled corticosteroids may be of value in patients documented to be steroid responders, whereas the ATS does not recommend their use at all. All three guidelines support the use of oxygen and pulmonary rehabilitation. There are varying levels of disagreement between the guidelines related to the role of spirometry, stratification of disease severity, and the use of theophylline and systemic corticosteroids. Other differences include the role for nebulizers and metered-dose inhalers, secretion clearance methodologies, and the treatment of acute COPD exacerbations and acute respiratory failure. All three guidelines agree that more research is needed to improve our understanding and management of COPD.


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