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      The asthma–COPD overlap syndrome: do we really need another syndrome in the already complex matrix of airway disease?

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          Abstract

          The term asthma–COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS) is one of multiple terms used to describe patients with characteristics of both COPD and asthma, representing ~20% of patients with obstructive airway diseases. The recognition of both sets of morbidities in patients is important to guide practical treatment decisions. It is widely recognized that patients with COPD and coexisting asthma present with a higher disease burden, despite the conceptual expectation that the “reversible” or “treatable” component of asthma would allow for more effective management and better outcomes. However, subcategorization into terms such as ACOS is complicated by the vast spectrum of heterogeneity that is encapsulated by asthma and COPD, resulting in different clinical clusters. In this review, we discuss the possibility that these different clusters are suboptimally described by the umbrella term “ACOS”, as this additional categorization may lead to clinical confusion and potential inappropriate use of resources. We suggest that a more clinically relevant approach would be to recognize the extreme variability and the numerous phenotypes encompassed within obstructive airway diseases, with various degrees of overlapping in individual patients. In addition, we discuss some of the evidence to be considered when making practical decisions on the treatment of patients with overlapping characteristics between COPD and asthma, as well as the potential options for phenotype and biomarker-driven management of airway disease with the aim of providing more personalized treatment for patients. Finally, we highlight the need for more evidence in patients with overlapping disease characteristics and to facilitate better characterization of potential treatment responders.

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          Most cited references 57

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          Immunology of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

           Peter Barnes (2008)
          Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are both obstructive airway diseases that involve chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract, but the type of inflammation is markedly different between these diseases, with different patterns of inflammatory cells and mediators being involved. As described in this Review, these inflammatory profiles are largely determined by the involvement of different immune cells, which orchestrate the recruitment and activation of inflammatory cells that drive the distinct patterns of structural changes in these diseases. However, it is now becoming clear that the distinction between these diseases becomes blurred in patients with severe asthma, in asthmatic subjects who smoke and during acute exacerbations. This has important implications for the development of new therapies.
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            A 15-year follow-up study of ventilatory function in adults with asthma.

            Although the prevalence of asthma and morbidity related to asthma are increasing, little is known about the natural history of lung function in adults with this disease. We used data from a longitudinal epidemiologic study of the general population in a Danish city, the Copenhagen City Heart Study, to analyze changes over time in the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) in adults with self-reported asthma and adults without asthma. The study was conducted between 1976 and 1994; for each patient, three measurements of lung function were obtained over a 15-year period. The final data set consisted of measurements from 17,506 subjects (8136 men and 9370 women), of whom 1095 had asthma. Among subjects who participated in all three evaluations, the unadjusted decline in FEV1 among subjects with asthma was 38 ml per year, as compared with 22 ml per year in those without asthma. The decline in FEV1 normalized for height (FEV1 divided by the square of the height in meters) was greater among the subjects with asthma than among those without the disease (P<0.001). Among both men and women, and among both smokers and nonsmokers, subjects with asthma had greater declines in FEV1 over time than those without asthma (P<0.001). At the age of 60 years, a 175-cm-tall nonsmoking man without asthma had an average FEV1 of 3.05 liters, as compared with 1.99 liters for a man of similar age and height who smoked and had asthma. In a sample of the general population, people who identified themselves as having asthma had substantially greater declines in FEV1 over time than those who did not.
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              Global strategy for asthma management and prevention

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                1176-9106
                1178-2005
                2016
                16 June 2016
                : 11
                : 1297-1306
                Affiliations
                Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Konstantinos Kostikas, Novartis Pharma AG, Novartis Campus, 4002, Basel, Switzerland, Tel +41 61 324 5931, Email kostas.kostikas@ 123456novartis.com
                Article
                copd-11-1297
                10.2147/COPD.S107307
                4914074
                27366057
                © 2016 Kostikas et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Categories
                Review

                Respiratory medicine

                overlap syndrome, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, copd, asthma, acos

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