Background: The Global Initiative on Obstructive Lung Disease stages for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) uses a fixed ratio of the post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)/forced vital capacity (FVC) of 0.70 as a threshold. Since the FEV1/FVC ratio declines with age, using the fixed ratio to define COPD may “overdiagnose” COPD in older populations.
Objective: To determine morbidity and mortality among older adults whose FEV1/FVC is less than 0.70 but more than the lower limit of normal (LLN).
Methods: The severity of COPD was classified in 4965 participants aged ⩾65 years in the Cardiovascular Health Study using these two methods and the age-adjusted proportion of the population who had died or had a COPD-related hospitalisation in up to 11 years of follow-up was determined.
Results: 1621 (32.6%) subjects died and 935 (18.8%) had at least one COPD-related hospitalisation during the follow-up period. Subjects (n = 1134) whose FEV1/FVC fell between the LLN and the fixed ratio had an increased adjusted risk of death (hazard ratio (HR) 1.3, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.5) and COPD-related hospitalisation (HR 2.6, 95% CI 2.0 to 3.3) during follow-up compared with asymptomatic individuals with normal lung function.
Conclusion: In this cohort, subjects classified as “normal” using the LLN but abnormal using the fixed ratio were more likely to die and to have a COPD-related hospitalisation during follow-up. This suggests that a fixed FEV1/FVC ratio of <0.70 may identify at-risk patients, even among older adults.
- BMI, body mass index
- CHS, Cardiovascular Health Study
- COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- FEV1, forced expiratory volume in 1 second
- FVC, forced vital capacity
- GOLD, Global Initiative on Obstructive Lung Disease
- LLN, lower limit of normal
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Published Online First 7 November 2006
Competing interests: None declared.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.