Simple lung function tests in primary care help ID early COPD

A peak flow meter or microspirometer can be used routinely in primary care among patients with suspected chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for early case identification, according to a study published online March 13 in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

Sarah J. Ronaldson, from the University of York in the United Kingdom, and colleagues evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of a series of simple lung function tests (spirometry, microspirometry, peak flow meter, and WheezoMeter) and symptom-based case-finding questionnaires to improve early identification of COPD cases in the primary care setting. Data on 216 current smokers (≥35 years) were included in the analysis.

The researchers found that the most effective case-finding tools were the peak flow meter alone, the peak flow meter plus WheezoMeter, and microspirometry alone. In the main analysis, severity of airflow obstruction was based on fixed ratios and percent of predicted values. Additional sensitivity analyses were conducted using lower limit of normal values.

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