According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth most common cause of death in the world. It also places a major burden on individuals and societies alike. Its incidence is expected to rise both in industrialised and developing countries in the decades to come, partly due to continued exposure to risk factors for COPD and partly due to an ageing world population. Developing new strategies to manage this disease, such as ensuring that the patient understands their condition and is encouraged to make changes in their lifestyle, is becoming a necessity if we are to significantly reduce the impacts this disease has across the globe.

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