Perspectives

Early diagnosis of COPD. Recognising the opportunities

Martin MacDonald

Figures

© astier/bsip/science photo library model used for illustrative purposes only
© astier/bsip/science photo library model used for illustrative purposes only

Abstract

Recognising chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in primary care requires active case finding in symptomatic patients. Spirometry is essential for diagnosis.

Key Points

  • A diagnosis of COPD is made in a patient with typical symptoms (dyspnoea, cough, sputum) in whom spirometry demonstrates expiratory airflow obstruction that cannot be fully reversed by a bronchodilator.
  • Underdiagnosis of COPD likely reflects a multitude of factors related to both patients and doctors.
  • Screening of asymptomatic patients is not recommended; rather, early diagnosis in primary care relies on active case finding in symptomatic patients.
  • Early diagnosis allows interventions, such as smoking cessation strategies, that may help to avoid the devastating consequences of advanced COPD.

Figures

© astier/bsip/science photo library model used for illustrative purposes only
© astier/bsip/science photo library model used for illustrative purposes only