Japanese Study Encourages Early COPD Detection by Primary Care Physicians

Japanese Study Encourages Early COPD Detection by Primary Care Physicians

Over 11 million people in the US have been diagnosed with COPD. An additional 12 million are thought to have undiagnosed COPD. Early diagnosis and treatment are beneficial for both management of the disease and possibly for long-term survival, so it stands to reason that early detection of COPD should be a goal among medical care providers.

A group of researchers in Japan set out to test an early detection program for COPD among primary care doctors. A total of 482 patients age 40 or over who regularly visited a general care doctor because of chronic disease were asked to complete a COPD screening questionnaire and undergo a simple spirometry test using a handheld spirometer. The questionnaire gathered information on factors known to be associated with COPD such as age, BMI value, smoking history, and the presence of other medical conditions that are often present in patients with COPD.

The patients in the study whose questionnaire and spirometry test results indicated they may have COPD were referred to a respiratory specialist, who then conducted a detailed examination including a more sophisticated spirometry test and chest radiography.

Out of the 111 patients who were referred to a respiratory specialist, 27 were diagnosed with the disease, a little over 24% of the group. In short, there was a significant association between the patient’s scores on the COPD screening questionnaire and on the simple spirometry test, and a COPD diagnosis.

Regular use of a COPD-specific questionnaire and simple spirometer screening by primary care doctors could prove to be an important aid in the early detection of undiagnosed COPD.

Information for this article was obtained from Internal Medicine, published by The Japanese Society of Internal Medicine.

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