A standardised physical examination based on four clinical signs was compared with the FEV1 with regard to ability to determine five-year mortality risk in subjects with varying degrees of obstructive airway disease. Both evaluation methods identified low, intermediate, and high risk groups within the population studied. Individuals with no positive physical signs, or with an FEV1 of 70% of predicted or more had mortality not significantly greater than that predicted on the basis of standard mortality tables. There was no difference between the FEV1 and the physical examination in ability to predict mortality.
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