Indexed on: 29 Jun '18Published on: 29 Jun '18Published in: International journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Consensus on the definition of airflow obstruction to diagnose COPD remains unresolved. We undertook systematic case finding for COPD in primary care using the fixed ratio (FR) criterion (forced expiratory volume in 1 s/forced vital capacity [FEV/FVC] <0.7) for defining airflow obstruction and also using the lower limit of normal (LLN). We then compared the clinical characteristics of those identified by the 2 criteria. A total of 3,721 individuals reporting respiratory symptoms were invited for spirometry. A total of 2,607 attended (mean age 60.4 years, 52.8% male, 29.8% current smokers) and 32.6% had airflow obstruction by FR ("FR+") and 20.2% by LLN ("LLN+"). Compared with the LLN+/FR+ group, the LLN-/FR+ group (12.4%) was significantly older, had higher FEV and FEV/FVC, lower COPD assessment test scores, and less cough, sputum, and wheeze, but was significantly more likely to report a diagnosis of heart disease (14.2% versus 6.9%, <0.001). Compared with the LLN+/FR+ group, the LLN-/FR- group was younger, had a higher body mass index, fewer pack-years, a lower prevalence of respiratory symptoms except for dyspnea, and lower FVC and higher FEV. The probability of known heart disease was significantly lower in the LLN+/FR+ group compared with those with preserved lung function (LLN-/FR-) (adjusted odds ratio 0.62, 95% CI: 0.43-0.90) but this was not seen in the LLN-/FR+ group (adjusted odds ratio 0.90, 95% CI: 0.63-1.29). In symptomatic individuals, defining airflow obstruction by FR instead of LLN identifies a significant number of individuals who have less respiratory and more cardiac clinical characteristics.