Personalising exacerbation prediction strategies in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

203 Downloads (Pure)


COPD is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity worldwide. One of the most important features of this disease is exacerbations where a patient’s respiratory symptoms episodically worsen. Exacerbations accounted for over 140,000 hospital admissions in 2012 in the UK with considerably more exacerbations being treated in primary care. Despite significant research in this area in recent years, treatment of acute exacerbations in the community remains limited to oral glucocorticoids, antibiotics and bronchodilators. One of the issues with unpicking the complexity of exacerbations is trying to find out the exact underlying cause and mechanism that leads to symptoms and lung destruction. Currently symptoms are initially guided by symptoms alone though multiple causes of exacerbations have common presentations. This includes viral and bacterial infections and episodes relating to environmental triggers such as pollen and pollution. There is also evidence that cardiovascular factors can contribute to symptoms of breathlessness that can mimic COPD exacerbations. In this editorial we discuss recent advances in the use of precision medicine to more accurately treat exacerbations of COPD. This includes identification of phenotypes that could help rationalise treatment and more importantly identify novel drug targets. We also consider the future role of precision medicine in preventing exacerbations and identifying COPD patients that are at increased risk of developing them. This includes use of clinical features, biomarker data and genetic indicators of future exacerbations.

Core tip: COPD patients and the exacerbations they suffer are complex and heterogenous in nature. They should all be treated on an individual basis with detailed clinical history and initial work up to better understand the impact it is having on their life. Careful consideration of the benefits of treatment should be weighed up against the risks of their side effects to ensure the maximum benefit of treatment. Precision medicine is starting to appear in management of COPD, both for acute exacerbations and their prevention
Original languageEnglish
Article number56444
Pages (from-to)11-16
JournalWorld Journal of Respirology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2020


  • COPD; Exacerbations; Phenotypes
  • Endotypes
  • Precision medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Personalising exacerbation prediction strategies in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this