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Clin Respir J. 2008 Oct;2(4):208-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-699X.2008.00063.x.

Predicting inadequate spirometry technique and the use of FEV1/FEV3 as an alternative to FEV1/FVC for patients with mild cognitive impairment.

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Department of Medicine, The Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Castle Lane East, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK.



Some patients cannot perform forced vital capacity (FVC). We conducted a study to answer three questions: Can the ability to perform components of spirometry be predicted by the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE)? What proportion of subjects can perform forced expiratory volume in 3 s (FEV3) but not FVC? Does the forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1)/FEV3 ratio concord with FEV1/FVC ratio in patients with airflow obstruction?


We conducted a prospective observational study of 267 patients with a mean age of 79 years, including subjects with indicators of frailty. They performed spirometry and the MMSE. Spirometric recordings were compared to the American Thoracic Society 1994 criteria.


FVC was achieved by 51% of patients. Inability to perform FVC was predicted by an MMSE < 24 (specificity 94%, sensitivity of 51%). An FEV1/FEV3 ratio < 80% matched a FEV1/FVC ratio < 70% (sensitivity 96%, specificity 97%). Twenty-five percent of subjects were able to reach FEV3 but not FVC; 14% of that group had an MMSE < 24. Subjects with an MMSE < 20 were unable reliably to perform any spirometry.


Patients with an MMSE < 24 are usually unable to reach FVC reliably when tested on a single occasion, but some can reach FEV3. Patients with MMSE < 20 cannot do spirometry. An FEV1/FEV3 ratio < 80% can be used to help identify patients with airflow obstruction if they are unable to perform full spirometry to FVC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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