Definition and Nomenclature of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Time for Its Revision

The definition and the diagnostic criteria of a disease represent different constructs. A definition must be describe its essential attributes while avoiding circularity; it must also not consist of terms that are synonymous with it. It should not be too wide or too narrow (not missor include anything to which the term should not be applied). It should also be clear, understandable, and positive, attempting to avoid concepts derived by exclusions.

Following these basic rules, Seadding provided a definition of disease that captures these attributes “a disease i the ‘sum of the abnormal characteristics displayed by a group of lving organisms by which they difer from the norm of their species and that places them at a biological disadvantage.” 

Complex diseases may be defined by  combining two or more characteristics, ‘but independent of the characteristics used, once a definition is agreed on, itis practical to adopt a nomenclature that uses names and terms to classify subgroups within the disease than share similar characteristics. It follows that the definition and classification of diseases can and should change over time.

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