+1 Recommend
0 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Management of severe acute exacerbations of COPD: an updated narrative review

      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.



          Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may experience an acute worsening of respiratory symptoms that results in additional therapy; this event is defined as a COPD exacerbation (AECOPD). Hospitalization for AECOPD is accompanied by a rapid decline in health status with a high risk of mortality or other negative outcomes such as need for endotracheal intubation or intensive care unit (ICU) admission. Treatments for AECOPD aim to minimize the negative impact of the current exacerbation and to prevent subsequent events, such as relapse or readmission to hospital.

          Main body

          In this narrative review, we update the scientific evidence about the in-hospital pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments used in the management of a severe AECOPD. We review inhaled bronchodilators, steroids, and antibiotics for the pharmacological approach, and oxygen, high flow nasal cannulae (HFNC) oxygen therapy, non-invasive mechanical ventilation (NIMV) and pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) as non-pharmacological treatments. We also review some studies of non-conventional drugs that have been proposed for severe AECOPD.


          Several treatments exist for severe AECOPD patients requiring hospitalization. Some treatments such as steroids and NIMV (in patients admitted with a hypercapnic acute respiratory failure and respiratory acidosis) are supported by strong evidence of their efficacy. HFNC oxygen therapy needs further prospective studies. Although antibiotics are preferred in ICU patients, there is a lack of evidence regarding the preferred drugs and optimal duration of treatment for non-ICU patients. Early rehabilitation, if associated with standard treatment of patients, is recommended due to its feasibility and safety. There are currently few promising new drugs or new applications of existing drugs.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 155

          • Record: found
          • Abstract: found
          • Article: not found

          Susceptibility to exacerbation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

          Although we know that exacerbations are key events in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), our understanding of their frequency, determinants, and effects is incomplete. In a large observational cohort, we tested the hypothesis that there is a frequent-exacerbation phenotype of COPD that is independent of disease severity. We analyzed the frequency and associations of exacerbation in 2138 patients enrolled in the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE) study. Exacerbations were defined as events that led a care provider to prescribe antibiotics or corticosteroids (or both) or that led to hospitalization (severe exacerbations). Exacerbation frequency was observed over a period of 3 years. Exacerbations became more frequent (and more severe) as the severity of COPD increased; exacerbation rates in the first year of follow-up were 0.85 per person for patients with stage 2 COPD (with stage defined in accordance with Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease [GOLD] stages), 1.34 for patients with stage 3, and 2.00 for patients with stage 4. Overall, 22% of patients with stage 2 disease, 33% with stage 3, and 47% with stage 4 had frequent exacerbations (two or more in the first year of follow-up). The single best predictor of exacerbations, across all GOLD stages, was a history of exacerbations. The frequent-exacerbation phenotype appeared to be relatively stable over a period of 3 years and could be predicted on the basis of the patient's recall of previous treated events. In addition to its association with more severe disease and prior exacerbations, the phenotype was independently associated with a history of gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn, poorer quality of life, and elevated white-cell count. Although exacerbations become more frequent and more severe as COPD progresses, the rate at which they occur appears to reflect an independent susceptibility phenotype. This has implications for the targeting of exacerbation-prevention strategies across the spectrum of disease severity. (Funded by GlaxoSmithKline; number, NCT00292552.)
            • Record: found
            • Abstract: found
            • Article: not found

            An official American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society statement: key concepts and advances in pulmonary rehabilitation.

            Pulmonary rehabilitation is recognized as a core component of the management of individuals with chronic respiratory disease. Since the 2006 American Thoracic Society (ATS)/European Respiratory Society (ERS) Statement on Pulmonary Rehabilitation, there has been considerable growth in our knowledge of its efficacy and scope. The purpose of this Statement is to update the 2006 document, including a new definition of pulmonary rehabilitation and highlighting key concepts and major advances in the field. A multidisciplinary committee of experts representing the ATS Pulmonary Rehabilitation Assembly and the ERS Scientific Group 01.02, "Rehabilitation and Chronic Care," determined the overall scope of this update through group consensus. Focused literature reviews in key topic areas were conducted by committee members with relevant clinical and scientific expertise. The final content of this Statement was agreed on by all members. An updated definition of pulmonary rehabilitation is proposed. New data are presented on the science and application of pulmonary rehabilitation, including its effectiveness in acutely ill individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and in individuals with other chronic respiratory diseases. The important role of pulmonary rehabilitation in chronic disease management is highlighted. In addition, the role of health behavior change in optimizing and maintaining benefits is discussed. The considerable growth in the science and application of pulmonary rehabilitation since 2006 adds further support for its efficacy in a wide range of individuals with chronic respiratory disease.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              Antibiotic therapy in exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

              The effects of broad-spectrum antibiotic and placebo therapy in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in exacerbation were compared in a randomized, double-blinded, crossover trial. Exacerbations were defined in terms of increased dyspnea, sputum production, and sputum purulence. Exacerbations were followed at 3-day intervals by home visits, and those that resolved in 21 days were designated treatment successes. Treatment failures included exacerbations in which symptoms did not resolve but no intervention was necessary, and those in which the patient's condition deteriorated so that intervention was necessary. Over 3.5 years in 173 patients, 362 exacerbations were treated, 180 with placebo and 182 with antibiotic. The success rate with placebo was 55% and with antibiotic 68%. The rate of failure with deterioration was 19% with placebo and 10% with antibiotic. There was a significant benefit associated with antibiotic. Peak flow recovered more rapidly with antibiotic treatment than with placebo. Side effects were uncommon and did not differ between antibiotic and placebo.

                Author and article information

                Multidiscip Respir Med
                Multidiscip Respir Med
                Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine
                BioMed Central (London )
                2 October 2018
                2 October 2018
                : 13
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1758 0937, GRID grid.10383.39, Department of Medicine and Surgery, Respiratory Disease and Lung Function Unit, , University of Parma, ; Parma, Italy
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1937 0247, GRID grid.5841.8, Pneumology Department, Clinic Institute of Thorax, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona - Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), , University of Barcelona, ; Barcelona, Spain
                © The Author(s). 2018

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2018


                Comment on this article