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Only One in Three COPD Patients Use Spirometry

Despite recommendations, spirometry use inconsistent and decreases with age

FRIDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Although spirometry is recommended for diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in two international guidelines, the breathing test designed to diagnose and monitor lung problems is used inconsistently, according to a review of Veterans Administration records published in the June issue of Chest.

In the report, Todd A. Lee, Pharm.D., Ph.D., from Hines VA Hospital in Hines, Ill., and colleagues identified 197,878 mostly male patients aged 40 years or older who were recently identified with COPD to ascertain if spirometry was used over a 12-month period, or during COPD exacerbations or surgical procedures.

The researchers found that only 33.7 percent of patients underwent spirometry, with older patients less likely to have been tested. The testing rate for patients visiting a pulmonologist was 3.3 times higher, however.

"The role of spirometry in routine clinical practice remains unclear, and providers may benefit from better guidance on the use of spirometry in patients with COPD," the authors conclude.

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