Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung diseases, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, that limit airflow and make breathing challenging.
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung diseases, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, that limit airflow and make breathing challenging. Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes in your lungs, causing irritation and excessive mucus. Emphysema is the gradual destruction of the alveoli, which are air sacs found at the end of the bronchial tubes. People with COPD are at an increased risk for high blood pressure, respiratory infections, heart complications, lung cancer and depression.
The two main causes of COPD are cigarette smoking and a deficiency of a protein, alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT). Air pollution and dust may also contribute to the development of COPD, particularly when the person exposed to these irritants is a smoker. Genetic factors other than AAT deficiency are also likely to contribute to the development of COPD.
Often, COPD progresses slowly and puts a strain on the heart. It weakens the heart, and can cause shortness of breath and swelling in the legs and feet. People with COPD who have low oxygen levels might develop an enlarged heart as a result.