What are defining features of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Updated: Nov 13, 2020
  • Author: Paul Kleinschmidt, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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The defining feature of COPD is irreversible airflow limitation during forced expiration. This may be a result of a loss of elastic recoil due to lung tissue destruction or an increase in the resistance of the conducting airways. The standard measure of COPD is the measure of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and its ratio to forced vital capacity (FVC), FEV1/FVC.

Each case of COPD is unique in the blend of processes; however, 2 main types of the disease are recognized.

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