Using lung function tests to diagnose COPD can help patients and reduce health care costs

November 14, 2016, Canadian Medical Association Journal

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) would benefit if pulmonary function testing was used more consistently to diagnose the condition, according to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide and affects more than 10% of adults. Testing airflow with pulmonary function testing is a key tool in diagnosing COPD, but it is underused, with only 30% to 50% of people with physician-diagnosed COPD undergoing testing.

"Given low rates of testing, these findings point to an opportunity to improve , reduce health services use and decrease by increasing rates of testing for suspected COPD," writes Dr. Andrea Gershon, Sunnybrook Research Institute and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), with coauthors.

Researchers looked at data for 68 898 patients diagnosed with COPD between 2005 and 2012, including 16 798 patients with newly diagnosed COPD. Only 41% had received pulmonary function testing, and these patients were more likely to be younger, have seen a specialist and have a who followed clinical guidelines for COPD. They were also less likely to have comorbidities.

The researchers found that patients who underwent lung function testing as a diagnostic tool were 10.4% less likely to be hospitalized for COPD or to die of any cause compared with patients who did not undergo testing when other differences between these groups were controlled for. They also found an association between lung function testing and increased use of medication for COPD, a finding consistent with previous research.

"Our results support the commonly held understanding that testing is key to the accurate diagnosis and quality care of people with COPD," state the authors.

They suggest that using this testing more frequently to diagnosis suspected cases of COPD can improve patient outcomes, promote better use of health care services and cut costs.

Explore further: COPD diagnosis study finds spirometry underused, misdiagnosis common

More information: Canadian Medical Association Journal, www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.151420

Related Stories

COPD diagnosis study finds spirometry underused, misdiagnosis common

October 18, 2016
According to the recommendations of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), spirometry should be performed to establish the diagnosis of COPD in ...

Considerable health care system burden for undiagnosed COPD

August 15, 2016
(HealthDay)—The overall health system burden of exacerbations in patients with undiagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is considerable, according to a study published in the Aug. 1 issue of the American ...

Exacerbations of COPD accelerate lung-function loss

May 17, 2016
Exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) accelerate the loss of lung function especially among patients with mild disease, according to researchers at National Jewish Health and other institutions. Barry ...

COPD may cause structural changes within the brain

February 9, 2016
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a condition impacting nearly 24 million Americans, is often associated with disease-specific fears and avoidance of physical activity. Little is known of the structural brain ...

One in four patients with COPD suffer from depression

May 3, 2016
Although there have been discussions about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition impacting 24 million Americans, and depression, there has been little research showing the impact depression has on patients ...

New chronic lung disease guidelines over-diagnose older men and under-diagnose younger women

July 1, 2015
New guidelines for diagnosing chronic lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD), should be modified because they over-diagnose COPD in older men and under-diagnose COPD in young women.

Recommended for you

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

Newly-discovered TB blood signal provides early warning for at-risk patients

January 17, 2018
Tuberculosis can be detected in people with HIV infection via a unique blood signal before symptoms appear, according to a new study by researchers from the Crick, Imperial College London and the University of Cape Town.

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

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.