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COPD exacerbations · 1: Epidemiology
  1. G C Donaldson,
  2. J A Wedzicha
  1. Academic Unit of Respiratory Medicine, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor J A Wedzicha
    Royal Free & University College Medical School, Hampstead Campus, London NW3 2PF, UK;j.a.wedzicha{at}


The epidemiology of exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is reviewed with particular reference to the definition, frequency, time course, natural history and seasonality, and their relationship with decline in lung function, disease severity and mortality. The importance of distinguishing between recurrent and relapsed exacerbations is discussed.

  • BMI, body mass index
  • COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • FEV1, forced expiratory volume in 1 second
  • FVC, forced vital capacity
  • LRTI, lower respiratory tract infections
  • PEF, peak expiratory flow
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • exacerbations
  • epidemiology

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  • Competing interests: JAW is Editor in Chief of Thorax.