Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD in short, is a progressive inflammatory disease which connects the vasculature, lung parenchyma and the airways. Chronic pulmonary disease can result in remodeling and damage of the lung tissue and the airways as well Because of COPD, the lungs are unable to function properly and overtime this can lead to more serious conditions such as heart failure and pulmonary hypertension. The pathophysiology of COPD is of high importance and it is important to be aware of the pathophysiology of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease!
The pathophysiology of COPD
It is known that the main driving force behind the pathophysiology of COPD is the inflammatory process. Recently it has been shown that the inflammatory response leads to many effects such as the development of inflammatory cells like lymphocytes, neutrophils and macrophages. Structural changes and thickened airways, like increased fibrosis and smooth muscle, can be manifested as well.
One of the main things that causes an inflammatory response in the lungs, is of course cigarette smoke. By eliminating the stimulus, the response does not stop, but actually progresses further for an unlimited time period. Basically COPD is one subsets of obstructive lung diseases such as bronchitis, fibrosis and asthma. One of the more well-known characteristics of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the destruction and degeneration of the supporting tissue of the lung and the lung itself as well. This process can lead to chronic bronchitis, emphysema or in some cases both. Emphysema starts off with a relatively small airway disease and gradually progresses to the destruction of the alveolar, with mucous gland hyperplasia and predominance of small airway narrowing.
It has to be said that the pathophysiology of COPD is not understood and known totally, but it is known that the chronic inflammation of the cells which line the bronchial tree, plays a big role in this Smoking, and to a lesser degree other inhaled irritants, perpetuate this ongoing inflammatory response which results in hyperactivity and the narrowing of the airways. The reason why the airway narrows is because the function of the cilia weakens, there is an excessive production of mucus and also because the airways become edematous. Individuals suffering from this have to deal with the progression of the disease and increasing difficulty clearing the secretions. Because of that they produce excessive and chronic dyspnea, wheezing and coughing!
In conclusion it can be said that the main pathophysiology of COPD consists of decreased expiratory flow rate, the loss of elastic recoil and the increased resistance to airflow. Because of the increased resistance of the flow of air, the alveolar walls often break down. Also the curvature of the diaphragm is flattened by hyper inflated lungs and this enlarges the rib cage. The configuration of the chest cavity, which as been altered, puts the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles at a disadvantage mechanically and also impairs their capacity to generate force. This in turn can, and often does, result in the heightened sense of dyspnea and the increased metabolic work of breathing. It is obvious that the pathophysiology of COPD is extensive and has to be taken seriously.