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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, is a chronic progressive lung disease that is nonreversible and includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems (“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” 2020). COPD affects people aged 65 to over 75 years of age. Some complications of COPD can have increased confusion or memory loss, in addition to functional limitations (Greenlund, Liu, Deokar, Wheaton, & Croft, 2016). For instance, people may have difficulty walking or engage in social activities like eating out or going to social events. 

COPD is now the third leading cause of death in the United States, yet between 85 to 90 percent of COPD deaths can be prevented simply by not smoking. 5 ways to prevent the development of COPD include stopping smoking, avoiding second-hand smoke, avoiding air pollution, avoiding occupational exposures, and knowing one’s family history due to a genetic component of COPD (“5 best ways to prevent COPD,” 2011). Public health programs and policies that focus on tobacco-use prevention and cessation, reducing occupational exposure to dusts and chemicals, and reducing other indoor and outdoor air pollutants are critically important for the health promotion aspect of preventing COPD (CDC Foundation, 2016). Early treatment and control of asthma may also prevent the development of COPD (CDC Foundation, 2016). Patients with COPD have increased nutritional requirements because of the additional work of breathing (CDC Foundation, 2016). If dietary requirements are not met, musculature of the chest wall could deteriorate. If COPD patients are underweight, patients can be educated to add the following sources of additional calories: butter, margarine, mayonnaise, peanut butter, nuts, and high-fat ice cream (COPD Foundation, 2016). Meeting nutritional requirements is one way nurses can help to reduce hospital readmissions for the COPD patient.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). (2020, April 28). Retrieved fromhttps://www.cdc.gov/copd/index.html

5 best ways to prevent COPD. (2011, September 13). Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/copd/5-best-ways-to-prevent-copd.aspx

Greenlund, K. J., Liu, Y., Deokar, A. J., Wheaton, A. G., & Croft, J. B. (2016). Association of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease With Increased Confusion or Memory Loss and Functional Limitations Among Adults in 21 States, 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Preventing chronic disease, 13, E02. https://doi.org/10.5888/pcd13.150428

https://www.cdc.gov/copd/pdfs/Framework_for_COPD_Prevention.pdf COPD Foundation. (2016). Slim Skinny’s reference guide. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/ajhom/Downloads/SSRG_NutritionTips_v1.3_WM.CV01.pdf


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic and progressive pulmonary disease that is characterized by inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes that causes obstructed air flow within the lungs. Most common symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus and wheezing. COPD is a chronic condition that is caused in general by prolonged exposure to irritants, most common example being cigarette smoke. Patients with COPD “often have multiple comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, anxiety, and depression” (Johnson, A.R., 2020), and are also at risk of developing other complications such as lung cancer, high blood pressure in the lung arteries, respiratory infections, etc.

Since COPD is a chronic, irreversible condition, the role of the nurse usually involves extensive education and support for smoking cessation, how to reduce exposure to irritants, role of having a yearly flu shot, when and how to use inhalers correctly, difference between different kinds of inhalers, respiratory rehabilitation, oxygen use, ways to manage dyspnea and COPD exacerbation, when to contact a medical professional if symptoms are not managed, etc. Another step to be considered in health promotion and disease prevention is discussing nutrition as “an important modifiable factor for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease” (Walker, J., 2019). Being overweight brings breathing difficulties, so the importance of maintaining a healthy weight has to be addressed with COPD patients since they tend to be less active due to fear of increased dyspnea. Also, being malnourished leads to complications and weight loss since the mere breathing effort necessary for COPD patients consumes a lot of calories and high protein/calorie diet can improve the outcome.


Johnson, A.R. (2020), Pathophysiology Clinical Applications for Client Health, Retrieved from https://lc.gcumedia.com/nrs410v/pathophysiology-clinical-applications-for-client-health/v1.1/#/chapter/1

Walker, J. (2019). Enabling good nutritional care for patients with COPD. Journal of Community Nursing, 33(4), 61–64.

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