Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death worldwide. COPD, however, is a heterogeneous collection of diseases with differing causes, pathogenic mechanisms, and physiological effects. Therefore a comprehensive approach to COPD prevention will need to address the complexity of COPD. Advances in the understanding of the natural history of COPD and the development of strategies to assess COPD in its early stages make prevention a reasonable, if ambitious, goal.
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