Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a long-lasting respiratory disorder that causes the airways of the lungs – the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs – to be inflamed and become “obstructed”. There are two main forms of COPD: Chronic bronchitis which involves a long-term cough with mucus, and emphysema which involves destruction of the lungs over time

In emphysema, the walls between many of the air sacs in the lungs are damaged, causing them to lose their shape and become floppy. This damage also can destroy the walls of the air sacs, leading to fewer and larger air sacs instead of many tiny ones. If this happens, the amount of gas exchange in the lungs is reduced. In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the airways is constantly irritated and inflamed. This causes the lining to thicken. Lots of thick mucus forms in the airways, making it hard to breathe.

Most people who have COPD have both emphysema and chronic obstructive bronchitis. COPD has no cure yet, but treatments and lifestyle changes can patients stay active, and slow the progress of the disease.

COPD Services + Programs

COPD support groups, clinics, or education centres can be found through the Canadian Lung Association.

Respirologists at the COPD Clinic at the Pacific Lung Health Centre at St. Paul’s Hospital provide patients with evaluations of their COPD status. The COPD clinic also provides assessments by a dietician, physiotherapist, and respiratory therapist, and provides patient education and smoking cessation counseling where required.

The COPD Clinic at Vancouver General Hospital provides a multi disciplinary assessment and treatment plan for people with suspected or confirmed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD Resources + Organizations


Current COPD research topics within the Institute for Heart + Lung Health community includes:

Gender relation to systemic inflammation

Gender relation to COPD and lung cancer

Systemic inflammation and blood and BAL biomarkers using proteomics

Novel therapeutics to these biomarkers and other components using proteomics.