What are possible complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Updated: Aug 15, 2019
  • Author: Paul Kleinschmidt, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Some complications that must be anticipated in COPD treatment include the following:

  • Incidence of pneumothorax due to bleb formation is relatively high; consider pneumothorax in all patients with COPD who have increased shortness of breath.

  • In patients who require long-term steroid use, the possibility of adrenal crisis is very real; at a minimum, patients with steroid-dependent COPD should receive stress dosing in the event of an exacerbation or any other stressor.

  • Infection (common)

  • Cor pulmonale

  • Secondary polycythemia

  • Bullous lung disease

  • Acute or chronic respiratory failure

  • Pulmonary hypertension

  • Malnutrition


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