Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Estimated Duration: 
1 hour

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is characterised by a reduction in airflow that is not reversible and is usually progressive in the long term. In many cases it is preventable and can be effectively managed.

COPD affects approximately 1 in 7 New Zealanders aged over 40 years old. It is the fourth commonest cause of death in New Zealand after heart disease, anxiety/depression and stroke. The prevalence of COPD amongst Māori is more than twice the prevalence of the disease in non-MāoriMāori are also more likely to be affected by COPD at an earlier age, to be hospitalised due to COPD and to die of the disease than non-Māori.

Greater than 85% of cases are caused by smoking. Other risk factors include air pollution, long-term cannabis smoking, occupational exposure (e.g. cadmium, silica, asbestos, dust), genetic predisposition (e.g. alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency).

Objectives of this course:

  • to identify those patients in whom a clinical diagnosis of COPD should be considered
  • to understand the initial investigations in a patient suspected of having COPD
  • to describe the pharmacologic management of a patient with COPD
  • to understand the steps in managing a patient with an acute exacerbation of COPD
  • to understand the non-pharmacological strategies that are useful in managing patients with COPD
  • to recognise an infective exacerbation of COPD


    Once you have completed this short course and quiz, please click 'submit' where you will be taken to the results page. From here you can print your certificate for 1 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hour.


    This content has been updated by Dr Karen Falloon MBChB, FRNZCGP, PhD. Senior Lecturer Goodfellow Unit in 2015 and updated in January 2018.

    The material is presented by the Goodfellow Unit (GFU), an accredited continuing medical education/ continuing professional development (CME/CPD) provider for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and functions under a tripartite agreement between the Goodfellow Foundation, the College and the University of Auckland. The Unit is located within the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, and within the School of Population Health.



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