Spirometry Under-Used in Both Men and Women with COPD

Only one-third of new patients undergo spirometry

TUESDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to one recent report, women with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are not less likely than their male counterparts to undergo spirometry. But only about one-third of all newly diagnosed patients undergo the diagnostic procedure, according to the results of a study published in the August issue of Chest.

MeiLan K. Han, M.D., of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, and colleagues studied data on 5,039 patients to determine the percentage who underwent spirometry from 720 days prior to diagnosis to 180 days after diagnosis.

The researchers found that more women than men underwent spirometry (33.5 percent versus 29.4 percent) and that only about 32 percent of all patients underwent the procedure. They also found that older patients -- especially those over age 75 -- were significantly less likely than younger patients to undergo the procedure.

"While most physicians would not think of prescribing antihypertensives without measuring blood pressure, many seem comfortable prescribing bronchodilators without spirometric evidence of airway obstruction. Thus, the importance of achieving a correct diagnosis through spirometric testing cannot be overemphasized," the authors write. "In total, these data provide important insights into the diagnosis of COPD, and suggest that additional efforts need to be introduced to optimize spirometry utilization."

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