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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)


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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a group of conditions that cause progressive (worsening) loss of lung function. It happens when the elastic tubes that carry air in the lungs or the attached balloon-like structures that hold air (air sacs) are damaged and can’t move air in and out of the lungs quickly.

Two common types of COPD are:

  • Emphysema: when the air sacs stretch out and eventually collapse and trap air
  • Chronic obstructive bronchitis: when inflammation and mucous block the airways

COPD is caused by smoking, secondhand smoke, or environmental pollutants. Emphysema is related to antitrypsin deficiency (alpha-1), a metabolic storage disorder that also affects the liver. In addition, people with multiple lung infections may have a higher risk of developing COPD.

Symptoms of COPD include chronic (ongoing) cough, a cough that brings up mucus, and shortness of breath. Sometimes, dangerous flare-ups happen, when shortness of breath worsens quickly. Over time, shortness of breath caused by COPD can affect simple daily activities.

If you have symptoms of COPD, make an appointment with a pulmonologist (lung specialist) at University of Miami Health System. Our teams can help you breathe easier.

Why Choose UHealth?

Advanced diagnostics and nuclear imaging. With advanced diagnostics and nuclear imaging tests, we can get better results, for a more accurate diagnosis. This means we can start treatment early, and even slow disease progression.

Critical care experts here for you from hospital to home. Our pulmonologists diagnose and treat conditions in the hospital and intensive care units. We also provide follow-up outpatient (clinic) care for COPD at convenient South Florida locations. You get seamless services from some of the same providers who know you and understand your medical history.

Researching new and better treatments for COPD. We’re studying medicine safety and effectiveness for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, such as emphysema and antitrypsin deficiency (alpha-1). With ongoing research and clinical trials, you can trust you’ll get the most innovative COPD care sooner.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.


  • Medicine therapy

    Oral corticosteroid medicines can reduce inflammation, and antibiotics can treat lung infections that cause or complicate COPD. Inhaled medicines can relieve coughing, improve breathing, and reduce inflammation. These include long- and short-acting bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and combination medicines.

  • Oxygen therapy

    If blood oxygen levels are too low, your doctor may prescribe inhaled oxygen as needed, such as before exercise or long-term for most of the day. There are different devices available. Many are portable, meaning they’re easy to move or take with you on the go.

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation

    Pulmonary rehabilitation programs involve support, education, exercise, and nutrition counseling and training to help you live better with COPD. Our programs are personalized to your needs, and focus on keeping you active and enjoying life.

  • Surgery

    Surgery for COPD may improve airflow in the lungs. Procedures include open and minimally invasive techniques to remove damaged lung tissue (called lung volume reduction surgery, or LVRS) or air spaces (bullae) that form in the lungs (called a bullectomy).

  • Transplant

    If your condition is severe and doesn’t respond well to other treatments, a lung transplant may be an option.


  • Arterial blood gas (ABG)

    This test measures the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, using a sample taken from an artery. Results show how well your lungs work, and whether you need oxygen therapy for COPD.

  • Medical imaging

    A chest X-ray and advanced diagnostic CT (computed tomography) scan show problems in the lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

  • Pulmonary function tests

    Pulmonary function tests measure lung functioning. They show how much air your lungs can hold, how quickly air moves in and out, and how well the carbon dioxide/oxygen gas exchange works. Methods include spirometry, or a mouthpiece attached to a machine, and plethysmography, performed in a box that looks like a phone booth.

  • Ventilation/perfusion scan (V/Q)

    A ventilation/perfusion scan (V/Q scan) is a nuclear imaging test that measures breathing (ventilation) and circulation (perfusion). The procedure involves inhaled and injected radioactive tracers to show airflow and blood supply in the lungs. The scan can detect blood clots and damage to blood vessels.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.

  • Aetna WC
  • Aetna Affiliates/Signature Adm (ASA)
  • Aetna Behavioral Health
  • Aetna Elect Choice (EPO)
  • Aetna Florida Healthy Kids
  • Aetna HMO
  • Aetna Medicaid HMO
  • Aetna Medicare HMO
  • Aetna Medicare PPO
  • Aetna POS
  • Aetna PPO
  • Aetna UM Employee HMO 1
  • Aetna UM Employee HMO 2
  • Aetna UM Employee POS HRA
  • Aetna/Coventry Institutes of Excellence (IOE)
  • Amerigroup Florida Healthy Kids
  • Amerigroup Medicaid HMO
  • Argus Vision
  • AvMed Choice
  • AvMed HMO/POS
  • AvMed MDC and JHS Groups
  • AvMed Medicare HMO
  • AXIS
  • BCBS Blue Options Network Blue PPO
  • BCBS BlueCare HealthOptions HMO
  • BCBS BlueChoice PPC/PPO
  • BCBS Miami Dade Blue PPO Limited Benefits Plan
  • BCBS of Florida (All products except "SELECT" Plans)
  • BCBS of Florida (Commercial plans exclude HIX Select)
  • BCBS Traditional PHS/PPO
  • Beacon Health (ValueOption)
  • Beech Street PPO
  • Broward Health Medical Center
  • CarePlus Medicare HMO
  • Catholic Hospice
  • CCP/CMS Title XIX (Medicaid Enrolled in South Florida)
  • CCP/CMS Title XXI (Non Medicaid Enrolled in South Florida)
  • CCP/MMA (Broward County residents)
  • Charlotte County Sheriffs Office PPO
  • Cigna Affiliates
  • Cigna Behavioral Health
  • Cigna Dental HMO/PPO
  • Cigna EPO
  • Cigna HMO
  • Cigna Life Source (Intracorp is part of Cigna Lifesource)
  • Cigna MDCPS Jackson Sr. High
  • Cigna POS
  • Cigna PPO
  • Cigna Shared Administration
  • Clear Health Alliance SNP Medicaid HMO
  • Concordia Behavioral Health
  • CorVel WC
  • Coventry First Health WC
  • Coventry Health Care of Florida (HIP) HMO/POS
  • Coventry Health Care of Florida (HIP) PPO
  • Coventry Health Plan of Florida (Foundation) HMO
  • Coventry Health Plan of Florida (Foundation) POS
  • Coventry National PPO
  • Coventry Summit Medicare HMO
  • Coventry Vista Medicare HMO
  • Coventry First Health PPO
  • Delta Dental PPO
  • DentaQuest (ADI)
  • Dimension WC
  • Dimension Plus PPO
  • Doctor's Healthcare Plan
  • EQUIAN (Health Systems International)
  • Europe Assistance/Global Corporate Solutions (Care Management Network)
  • eyeQuest
  • Florida Community Care (FCC)
  • Florida Healthcare Plan (Affiliate of BCBSFL)
  • Florida PACE (FPC)
  • Freedom Health Medicaid HMO
  • Freedom Health Medicare HMO
  • Gallagher Bassett WC (MDCPS & FCSRMC)
  • Global Excel Mgt PPO
  • Great West (Cigna) HMO/POS
  • Guardian Life PPO
  • HAA Preferred Partners
  • Health First Health HMO/POS
  • Health First Health Medicare HMO
  • Health First Health PPO
  • Health Net Veterans Choice HMO
  • Heritage Summit Healthcare WC
  • Humana Behavioral Health (LifeSynch)
  • Humana Dental/CompBenefits/OHS
  • Humana EPO
  • Humana HMO
  • Humana Medicaid HMO
  • Humana Medicare HMO
  • Humana National Transplant
  • Humana PPO
  • Humana Premier
  • iCare Health Solutions
  • Interlink Health Services
  • International Kids Fund (IKF)
  • League Medical Concepts Federal Inmates
  • Life Trac
  • Magellan Behavioral Health
  • Magellan Complete Care SNP Medicaid HMO
  • MDAbroad
  • Medica Medicare HMO
  • Medical Development In't (MDI)-Federal Inmates
  • Medicus
  • Metlife Dental PPO
  • MHNet Behavioral Network (MHNet)
  • Molina
  • Molina Market Place
  • Molina Medicaid HMO
  • Molina Medicare HMO
  • Morgan White International
  • MultiPlan PPO
  • Naphcare (Federal Prisoners)
  • National Healthcare Solutions Inc.
  • Neighborhood HealthPlan HMO/POS
  • Neighborhood HealthPlan PPO
  • North Broward Hospital District PPO
  • Olympus Managed Healthcare
  • Optum
  • Positive Healthcare SNP Medicaid HMO
  • Positive Healthcare SNP Medicare HMO
  • Prestige Health Choice Medicaid HMO
  • Prime Health Services WC
  • Quality Health Management
  • Religious Order of Jehovah's Witnesses PPO
  • Rockport Healthcare Group WC
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises PPO
  • Sanus Health Corporation
  • Seasons Hospice
  • Simply Healthcare Medicaid HMO
  • Solstice Dental HMO/PPO
  • Start Healthcare Network
  • Sunshine
  • Sunshine AMBETTER
  • Sunshine Healthy Kids HMO
  • Sunshine Medicaid HMO
  • Sunshine Medicare HMO
  • Tricare South Prime HMO
  • Tricare South Standard PPO
  • United Behavioral Health (UBH)
  • UnitedHealthcare Affiliates
  • UnitedHealthcare Healthy Kids HMO
  • UnitedHealthcare HMO/POS
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicaid HMO
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicare Nursing Home Plan
  • UnitedHealthcare PPO
  • University of Miami Athletic Dept PPO
  • VUMI
  • Wellcare/Staywell Healthy Kids HMO
  • Wellcare/Staywell Medicaid HMO
  • Wexford Health State Inmates
  • Worldwide Managed Care