Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

COPD Health Center

Font Size

Early COPD Treatment Slows Disease

Spiriva Begun Early in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Slows Lung-Function Loss
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 27, 2009 - Early treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) slows loss of lung function and likely extends survival, a large-scale clinical trial shows.

COPD is almost always caused by smoking. It includes two diseases: chronic bronchitis, in which the airways become inflamed; and emphysema, in which the air sacs in the lung are damaged.

Over time, COPD gets worse. Treatment does not reverse lung damage, but it can make patients feel better.

The enormous UPLIFT study enrolled nearly 6,000 COPD patients in 487 centers in 37 nations. UPLIFT tested the inhaled, long-acting bronchodilator Spiriva.

Last year, UPLIFT study investigators reported that Spiriva can safely help patients with severe COPD breathe more easily. But treatment did not slow the inexorable loss of lung function in COPD patients.

But what if Spiriva were begun earlier, in patients with more moderate, early disease? Few COPD studies have enrolled patients with early-stage disease.

Analysis of the subset of 2,739 UPLIFT patients with moderate COPD shows that Spiriva could actually slow COPD progression. Treatment also reduced COPD exacerbations and improved quality of life over the four-year study.

There was even a suggestion that Spiriva extended survival, although there were too few deaths among these patients for this finding to be statistically significant.

"Treatment of COPD should begin in symptomatic patients with moderate [COPD] disease," conclude UPLIFT investigators Marc Decramer, MD, PhD, and colleagues.

In an editorial accompanying the study, University of Liverpool researchers Lisa Davies and Peter Calverley note that the improvements seen with Spiriva treatment were greater in early-stage patients than in late-stage patients.

"Important gains in wellbeing can be produced and maintained in the earlier stages of COPD," they conclude.

The Decramer report, and the Davies/Calverley editorial, appear in the Aug. 28 online edition of The Lancet.

Today on WebMD

man talking to his doctor
Check your COPD risk.
woman using inhaler
What is the top cause of this condition?
chest x-ray
7 early warning signs.
Senior couple stretching
10 exercises for people With COPD.
Bronchitis Overview
Senior woman blowing dandelion
Living With Copd
human lung graphic
Energy Boosting Foods
red heart and ekg
Living With Copd
Senior couple stretching