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Respir Med. 2010 Aug;104(8):1189-96. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2009.10.030. Epub 2010 Mar 3.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in older persons: A comparison of two spirometric definitions.

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Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, New Haven, CT 06516, USA.



Among older persons, we previously endorsed a two-step spirometric definition of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that requires a ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1sec to forced vital capacity (FEV(1)/FVC) below .70, and an FEV(1) below the 5th or 10th standardized residual percentile ("SR-tile strategy").


To evaluate the clinical validity of an SR-tile strategy, compared to a current definition of COPD, as published by the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD-COPD), in older persons.


We assessed national data from 2480 persons aged 65-80 years. In separate analyses, we evaluated the association of an SR-tile strategy with mortality and respiratory symptoms, relative to GOLD-COPD. As per convention, GOLD-COPD was defined solely by an FEV(1)/FVC<.70, with severity staged according to FEV(1) cut-points at 80 and 50 percent predicted (%Pred).


Among 831 participants with GOLD-COPD, the risk of death was elevated only in 179 (21.5%) of those who also had an FEV(1)<5th SR-tile; and the odds of having respiratory symptoms were elevated only in 310 (37.4%) of those who also had an FEV(1)<10th SR-tile. In contrast, GOLD-COPD staged at an FEV(1) 50-79%Pred led to misclassification (overestimation) in terms of 209 (66.4%) and 77 (24.6%) participants, respectively, not having an increased risk of death or likelihood of respiratory symptoms.


Relative to an SR-tile strategy, the majority of older persons with GOLD-COPD had neither an increased risk of death nor an increased likelihood of respiratory symptoms. These results raise concerns about the clinical validity of GOLD guidelines in older persons.

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