Improved diagnosis of lung disease: New global benchmarks

September 4, 2012

New research has established the first global benchmarks for assessing lung function across the entire life span. The lung growth charts will help healthcare professionals better understand lung disease progression and help raise awareness of lung disease, which is the world's leading cause of death.

The research will be presented today at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in Vienna.

is measured by a spirometry test, which involves blowing out as hard and fast as possible into a device that records how big your lungs are and how fast you can breathe out. Currently, there is no global benchmark for these results, so doctors' interpretation of the results can vary widely.

Previously, a number of different charts have been used across the world to help doctors interpret the spirometry results. This could lead to someone's result being described as abnormal in one clinic and normal in another or an adolescent seeing their level of function apparently decrease dramatically when their care is transferred to an adult clinic. Similar errors can occur if an individual's ethnicity, and associated differences in or stature, are not taken into account.

The new research, aimed to provide a consistent benchmark to enable clinicians across the world to tell patients what their should be, based on healthy individuals of the same age, sex, ethnic group and stature.

The international 'Global Lung Function' research group collected data from 74,187 healthy non-smokers aged 3-95 years and used modern . They derived new continuous 'all-age' multi-ethnic charts. Previously, lung function charts were often only applicable to white subjects of European descent, but the new charts include the black population, those of oriental/Chinese descent and those of mixed ethnic origins.

The study comes at the close of the World Spirometry Day 2012 campaign, which saw more than 100,000 spirometry tests take place across the world in over 65 countries. The new lung growth charts will enable more accurate analysis of results from future World Spirometry Day campaigns and allow meaningful comparisons to be made between countries.

Senior author, Janet Stocks, from University College London, said: "These equations, endorsed by 6 major international lung societies around the world, are a major step forward in providing a robust measurement for lung function testing. They will enable healthcare professionals to streamline interpretation of test results around the world and provide a more reliable and easily interpreted picture of a patient's lung health.

"Correct interpretation of lung function results in the very young will enable us to identify children who are most likely to benefit from treatment and avoid unnecessary medication for those who do not need it. Similarly with an aging population, it is essential to distinguish the impact of normal aging from that of lung disease which could benefit from treatment, in order to enhance independence and quality of life in the elderly."

"We additionally hope that this benchmark will help to make spirometry testing the 'norm'. Many people are aware they need an ECG to test their heart, but not many people have heard of spirometry. By taking this step towards more consistent assessments, we hope we can raise awareness of the spirometry test and help to encourage people to have their lungs tested if they think they notice a problem.

Chair of the European Lung Foundation, Monica Fletcher, also welcomed the results: "By spotting lung conditions early, we can work towards more effective treatments and help relieve symptoms or slow progression of the disease. These new equations will allow patients to understand the health of their lungs and more effectively manage their condition or take steps to prevent progression or development of , such as and regular exercise and giving up smoking."

Explore further: New data reveals public ignorance about the impact of lung disease

More information: The full report is available on-line in the European Respiratory Journal, DOI:10.1183/09031936.00080312 ,ERJ In Press June 27th 2012.

Related Stories

New data reveals public ignorance about the impact of lung disease

June 26, 2012
New data released by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) to coincide with World Spirometry Day today has revealed a worrying lack of understanding and concern among the public about the world's biggest ...

Early COPD detection could help lung cancer diagnosis

November 16, 2011
Early screening of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may help to detect lung cancer at an earlier stage, according to a new study.

Time to act on COPD

June 20, 2012
As leading figures in respiratory health from across the globe gather in Birmingham for the COPD8 conference ahead of World Spirometry Day, the European COPD Coalition (ECC) is calling on policy makers across Europe to recognise ...

Lung function of moderately premature babies is reduced at 8-9 years but may improve with age

September 27, 2011
The negative effects that premature birth can have on the lungs of babies could be as severe in moderately premature babies as those born extremely prematurely but may be reversed in their teenage years, according to a new ...

Viewing the lungs in 4D

May 2, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A new lung imaging method has the potential to revolutionise the study of lungs in both normal and diseased states.

Vitamin D may protect against lung function impairment and decline in smokers

July 20, 2012
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with worse lung function and more rapid decline in lung function over time in smokers, suggesting that vitamin D may have a protective effect against the effects of smoking on lung function, ...

Recommended for you

Novel approach to track HIV infection

August 18, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have developed a novel method of tracking HIV infection, allowing the behavior of individual virions—infectious particles—to be connected to infectivity.

Faulty gene linked to obesity in adults

August 18, 2017
Groundbreaking new research linking obesity and metabolic dysfunction to a problem in the energy generators in cells has been published by researchers from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University ...

Two lung diseases killed 3.6 million in 2015: study

August 17, 2017
The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

New test differentiates between Lyme disease, similar illness

August 16, 2017
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. But it can be confused with similar conditions, including Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness. A team of researchers led by Colorado ...

Addressing superbug resistance with phage therapy

August 16, 2017
International research involving a Monash biologist shows that bacteriophage therapy – a process whereby bacterial viruses attack and destroy specific strains of bacteria - can be used successfully to treat systemic, multidrug ...

Can previous exposure to west Nile alter the course of Zika?

August 15, 2017
West Nile virus is no stranger to the U.S.-Mexico border; thousands of people in the region have contracted the mosquito-borne virus in the past. But could this previous exposure affect how intensely Zika sickens someone ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.