2023 GOLD update: Changes in COPD nomenclature and initial therapy



Asthma & COPD Section

The 2023 GOLD committee proposed changes in nomenclature and therapy for various subgroups of patients with COPD. The 2023 GOLD committee changed the ABCD group classification to ABE (for exacerbations), which highlights the importance of the number and severity of exacerbations irrespective of daily symptoms.

The mainstay of initial treatment for symptomatic COPD should include combination LABA/LAMA bronchodilators in a single inhaler. For patients with features of concomitant asthma or eosinophils greater than or equal to 300 cells/microliter, an ICS/LABA/LAMA combination inhaler is recommended.

People with “young COPD” develop respiratory symptoms and meet spirometric criteria for COPD between the ages of 25 and 50 years old. Other terminology changes center around those with functional and/or structural changes suggesting COPD, but who do not meet the post-bronchodilator spirometric criteria to confirm the COPD diagnosis.

Those with “pre-COPD” have normal spirometry, including the FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratio, but have functional and/or structural changes concerning for COPD. Functional changes include air trapping and/or hyperinflation on PFTs, low diffusion capacity, and/or decline in FEV1 of >40 mL per year.

Structural changes include emphysematous changes and/or bronchial wall changes on CT scans. “PRISm” stands for preserved ratio with impaired spirometry, where the postbronchodilator FEV1/FVC is greater than or equal to 0.70, but FEV1 is < 80% predicted with similar functional and/or structural changes to those with “pre-COPD.” People with PRISm have increased all-cause mortality. Not all people with pre-COPD or PRISm progress clinically and spiro-metrically to COPD; however, they should be treated because they have symptoms as well as functional and/or structural abnormalities. Despite increasing data regarding pre-COPD and PRISm, many gaps remain regarding optimal management.

Maria Ashar, MD, MBBS

Section Fellow-in-Training

Max J. Martin, MD

Section Fellow-in-Training

Sandra G. Adams, MD, MS, FCCP

Section Member-at-Large


Global strategy for prevention, diagnosis and management of COPD: 2023 report; Accessed March 13, 2023.

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