Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and interstitial lung disease (ILD) have distinct clinical features, both diseases may coexist in a patient because they share similar risk factors such as smoking, male sex, and old age. Patients with both emphysema in upper lung fields and diffuse ILD are diagnosed with combined pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema (CPFE), which causes substantial clinical deterioration. Patients with CPFE have higher mortality compared with patients who have COPD alone, but results have been inconclusive compared with patients who have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Poor prognostic factors for CPFE include exacerbation, lung cancer, and pulmonary hypertension. The presence of interstitial lung abnormalities, which may be an early or mild form of ILD, is notable among patients with COPD, and is associated with poor prognosis. Various theories have been proposed regarding the pathophysiology of CPFE. Biomarker analyses have implied that this pathophysiology may be more closely associated with IPF development, rather than COPD or emphysema. Patients with CPFE should be advised to quit smoking and undergo routine lung function tests, and pulmonary rehabilitation may be helpful. Various pharmacologic agents may be beneficial in patients with CPFE, but further studies are needed.
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