American Thoracic Society/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Asthma-Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Overlap Workshop Report
Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are highly prevalent chronic obstructive lung diseases with an associated high burden of disease. Asthma, which is often allergic in origin, frequently begins in infancy or childhood with variable airflow obstruction and intermittent wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Patients with COPD, in contrast, are usually current or former smokers who present after the age of 40 years with symptoms (often persistent) including dyspnea and a productive cough. On the basis of age and smoking history, it is often easy to distinguish between asthma and COPD. However, some patients have features compatible with both diseases. Because clinical studies typically exclude these patients, their underlying disease mechanisms and appropriate treatment remain largely uncertain. To explore the status of and opportunities for research in this area, the NHLBI, in partnership with the American Thoracic Society, convened a workshop of investigators in San Francisco, California on May 14, 2016. At the workshop, current understanding of asthma-COPD overlap was discussed among clinicians, pathologists, radiologists, epidemiologists, and investigators with expertise in asthma and COPD. They considered knowledge gaps in our understanding of asthma-COPD overlap and identified strategies and research priorities that will advance its understanding. This report summarizes those discussions.