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Physical activity and health: COPD - Essay Example

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The paper “Physical activity and health: COPD” explores the critical strategy for prevention of frequent and distressing exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. It is appropriate physical activity and physical therapy. It is a well-known fact that health is influenced by physical activity. While appropriate physical activity is essential for prevention of certain diseases like diabetes, hypertension and ischemic heart disease, it is also essential in the management and prevention of progression of certain diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a devastating medical illness, which causes a great degree of human suffering. It is not only a major health issue but also a significant source of economic and social burden. The condition is frequently under diagnosed contributing to increased mortality and morbidity. It cannot be cured; however, appropriate and timely treatment can reduce symptoms, and decrease mortality and morbidity. COPD is defined as "a disease state characterized by the presence of airflow obstruction due to chronic bronchitis or emphysema". Clinically, chronic bronchitis is defined as the presence of chronic cough with no other etiology and which is productive for at least 3 months during each of the two consecutive years. Emphysema is damage of the air spaces distal to the terminal bronchioles, the damage being irreversible, and associated with destruction of the air space walls with no obvious fibrosis. (Fromer and Cooper, 2008). The global prevalence of COPD is about 7.5% of which 6.4% is due to chronic bronchitis and only 1.8% due to emphysema (Sharma, 2006). In adults above 40 years of age, the prevalence is estimated to be about 9-10% (Sharma, 2006). Men are most commonly affected by this disease (Sharma, 2006). However, the incidence in women is increasing due to increased smoking (Sharma, 2006). COPD is associated with certain mortality and morbidity. The most common cause of COPD is cigarette smoking (Silvermann and Speizer, 1996). This condition affects about 15% of cigarette smokers (NICE, 2004). Other risk factors for the development of COPD are air pollution especially due to solid cooking fuels, presence of airway hyperresponsiveness (Sharma, 2006). The characteristic pathophysiological changes in COPD are seen in the central airways, the peripheral airways and also the lung parenchyma (Thurlbeck, 1990). Diverse mechanisms are implicated in the pathophysiology of COPD (Thurlbeck, 1990). Primary offenders like oxidative stress due to free radicals from cigarette smoke and oxidants from phagocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes trigger the release of certain enzymes like leukocyte elastase in such proportions that they cannot be counteracted effectively by anti-proteases, resulting in destruction of the lung tissues (Thurlbeck, 1990) leading to necrosis or apoptosis of the lung tissue. Due to these mechanisms, certain pathological changes occur in the airways and the lung tissue like inflammation and globlet cell hyperplasia in chronic bronchitis and loss of elastic recoil in emphysema (Thurlbeck, 1990). Other changes include ciliary abnormalities, airway smooth muscle hyperplasia, bronchial wall thickening and sometimes atrophy (Sharma, 2006). These pathophysiological changes contribute to airway flow obstruction, airway hyperresponsiveness and mucus accumulation leading to poor ventilation and oxygenation, breathlessness, cough and infection. A patient may have either emphysema or chronic bronchitis or both. The clinical presentation depends on which pathology is more dominant. When emphysema dominates, features due to loss of elastic r ...Show more
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Summary

This essay discusses the role of physical activity in improving the health of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. An overview of the disease, diagnosis and management will be included in the essay to enhance the understanding of the topic…
Physical activity and health: COPD
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