Diagnosis and Treatment Guidelines For Stable COPD

The American College of Physicians has released an updated clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a collection of slowly progressing lung diseases more commonly found in smokers. Over 5% of adults in the US have COPD and it is the fourth primary cause of death and twelfth leading cause of illness. A patient suffering from the disease will typically have a chronic cough, wheezing, and some patients also have a shortness of breath and and activity limitation.

Some of the guideline recommendations include: - If a patient has shortness of breathe, a Spirometry test should be performed to diagnose airflow obstruction. During the test a patient blows into a machine that measures how much gas is breathed into it over a specified time.

- Treatment of stable COPD should be prescribed for patients who have respiratory symptoms and have Spirometry test results under 60% predicted. - If a patient's oxygen levels in the circulating blood are insufficient even after a doctor's reserved treatment, then oxygen therapy should be prescribed.

The guideline author, Steven Weinberger, advises, "The evidence does not support using Spirometry as a diagnostic strategy for individuals not reporting respiratory symptoms. However adding Spirometry to clinical examinations for individuals with respiratory symptoms, especially shortness of breath, has demonstrated benefits." He also stresses "It is important that all individuals with COPD stop smoking to prevent progression of the disease. It's never too late to stop."


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