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Update: Management of co-morbidities in COPD

Posted on: 21 Jan 2019

Module summary

This case-based module will guide you through the latest evidence in managing comorbidities in COPD.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease that requires a holistic, patient-centred approach to management. Multiple morbidities commonly coexist in COPD patients; nearly half of patients have three or more diagnoses in addition to COPD. A holistic approach enables primary care professionals to address both patients’ diverse long-term conditions and their psychosocial needs.

There are times when a COPD patient may need specialist attention; however, the primary care team provides continuity of care, ensuring the patient’s needs remain the central focus.

The Primary Care Respiratory Society has produced a guide named ‘Diagnosis and Management of COPD in Primary Care’. This guide contains a chapter that illustrates the holistic approach to care for COPD patients.

The Royal College of Physicians also produced a report to sum up the findings of the national COPD audit. This report describes improvement opportunities for clinicians and system managers, including several around management of comorbidities. The findings were discussed in a webinar here on the PCRA website.

Learning objectives

  • Know the clinical consequences of common comorbidities in COPD.
  • Be confident in managing these comorbidities and their complications.
  • Recognise when to refer patients for specialist care.

Author details

This module was developed by Dr Helen Ward, the lead clinician for integrated respiratory disease care in the acute trust at Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust.


List of abbreviations
 ACE  Angiotensin-converting enzyme  DEXA  Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry
 AF  Atrial fibrillation  ECG  Electrocardiogram
 BMD  Bone mineral density  FEV1  Forced expiratory volume in 1  second
 BMI  Body mass index  FVC  Forced vital capacity
 BNP  Brain (B-type) natriuretic peptide  GOLD  Global Initiative for Chronic Lung Disease
 CAST  Chinese Acute Stroke Trial  NICE  National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
 COPD  Chronic obstructive pulmonary  disease  NT  proBNP  N-terminal-proBNP
 CVD  Cardiovascular disease  TTE  Transthoracic echocardiogram

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The Primary Care Respiratory Academy has been developed and is produced by Cogora, the publisher of Pulse, Nursing in Practice, Healthcare Leader, Management in Practice and The Pharmacist working in partnership with PCRS.

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