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COPD and PE: A clinical dilemma

Authors Moua T, Wood K

Published 6 June 2008 Volume 2008:3(2) Pages 277—284


Teng Moua1, Kenneth Wood2

1Department of Internal Medicine, 2Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics, Madison, WI, USA

Abstract: Dyspnea in patients with known chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be a clinical challenge due to the nonspecific nature of atypical presentations. Typical features of fever, productive cough, and wheezing on presentation support COPD exacerbation, while absence of such findings may warrant further evaluation for underlying etiologies, including pulmonary embolism (PE). It is suspected that one in four patients with atypical COPD exacerbation may have PE as an underlying or concomitant cause of acute dyspnea. This review discusses the clinical presentation of COPD and PE, and presents an overview of the rationale for pursuing work-up for thromboembolic disease in the setting of known obstructive lung diseases.

Keywords: pulmonary embolism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, dyspnea

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