Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects an estimated three million people in the UK. However, symptoms of this disease can be eased with proper treatment and, most importantly, by quitting smoking.

COPD is largely a disease of smokers

The term COPD has replaced the previously separate conditions of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. With rare exceptions, such as coal miners or people exposed to industrial gases and dust, non-smokers don’t develop COPD.

If you stop smoking, your chances of developing COPD decrease dramatically. For those who already have COPD, quitting smoking can lead to an improvement of their symptoms and slow progression of the disease.

Dr Brian O'Connor, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, sees at least one or two patients with COPD every week. He says: “Currently, almost one million have been diagnosed with COPD in the UK and it’s estimated a further two million people are undiagnosed and will only present to their doctor when the disease is advanced.”

Life-threatening lung disease gets progressively worse

At first, symptoms of COPD may not be noticeable. The condition progresses gradually, starting with either a ‘phlegmy’ cough or breathlessness. Many people don’t see their GP at this early stage, but the sooner you get advice and treatment the better. According to Dr O’Connor, symptoms of COPD can often be alleviated through a combination of methods.

One-stop treatment at the Lung Centre

Cromwell Hospital is the only private hospital in London to offer investigation, diagnosis, and treatment for a range of respiratory and chest disorders, including COPD, all under one roof. This is carried out within the Heart and Lung Centre.

“The multidisciplinary team approach of the Heart and Lung Centre at Cromwell Hospital facilitates rapid investigation and will transform the patient journey and management of their lung disease,” said Dr O'Connor.

There isn’t a cure or way to reverse the damage to your lungs, but there are things you can do to stop COPD from getting worse. The most important treatment is to stop smoking. Medication can treat the symptoms and when combined with physiotherapy, breathing exercises, and a pulmonary rehabilitation programme, will help improve patients’ breathing.

“The Heart and Lung Centre links internationally acclaimed specialists in lung pathology, physiology, pulmonary imaging, respiratory medicine, and thoracic surgery to leading edge technology and state of the art facilities,” Dr O’Connor added.

Find out more about the Heart and Lung Centre >