Older adults are often misdiagnosed when it comes to COPD.

Public Health

COPD Often Misclassified in Older Adults

“COPD misclassification may result in missed opportunities to provide disease-specific therapy that could lead to a reduction in disease burden and improve the long-term health of patients."

Older adults often fall victim to misidentification of their medical symptoms, with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) being either overdiagnosed or underreported, according to new research out of Canada.

This is happening despite the medical community’s efforts to educate care providers on the importance of airflow obstruction on lung function tests (called spirometry) in classifying COPD patients, Dr. M.A. Malik Farooqi from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, told Healio.

That common misclassification is associated with higher respiratory symptom burden, healthcare usage and lower physical performance, the research shows.

“COPD misclassification may result in missed opportunities to provide disease-specific therapy that could lead to a reduction in disease burden and improve the long-term health of patients,” Farooqi said.

The longitudinal Canadian study, published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research included more than 21,000 Canadian patients with high-quality spirometry.

Researchers evaluated self-reported physician-diagnosed COPD and compliance with spirometry airflow restriction. They then assessed relationships between confirmed COPD, underdiagnosis and overdiagnosis with self-reported respiratory symptoms, physical performance, and healthcare utilization.

Research findings showed that 5 percent of participants reported physician-diagnosed COPD. Just 1 percent had confirmed COPD supported by spirometry airflow obstruction.

There were inconsistencies found in about 8 percent of self-reported COPD and spirometry findings, with about equal numbers being over and underreported.

COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association. More than 16.4 million people have been diagnosed with the disease, but millions more likely have the disease and do not realize it, experts say.

Worldwide, the disease also ranks as the third-leading cause of death, according to the World Health Organization. (WHO). Early diagnosis and treatment helps slow progression of the disease, which is characterized by abnormalities in the small airways of the lungs that lead to limitations of airflow in and out of the lungs.

More Pulmonology Articles
APIC: It’s Time to Reevaluate Infection Preventionists’ Workload
Preventing Infection
Given the unrelenting waves of the novel coronavirus, it is vital to make sure IPs can focus on patient safety and infection monitoring rather than paperwork, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology says.
Which Musical Notes Best Relieve Anxiety Before Bronchoscopy?
Bronchoscopy Procedure
Although music as a means of reducing anxiety in endoscopy has been studied before, the results have been contradictory and inconclusive.
More From Single-Use Endoscopy
Even though some consider disposable gowns lighter and more breathable, they may not offer needed protection.

Patient Safety

Disposable gowns worn by thousands of healthcare workers across the U.S. and beyond may not be up to the job of infection prevention, according to new research.

Becoming a Next-Gen Urologist

Endoscopy Insights Podcast

Dr. Matthew Katz is affiliated with NYU Langone Health and is a clinical assistant professor in the urology department at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. He brings a unique perspective to starting a urology practice today, as we learned at AUA 2022.

Prevention Strategies

“If it looks dirty, it’s definitely dirty. If it looks clean, it might still be dirty” — a recent webinar explains this critical insight and more regarding recently mandated cleaning verification tests for high-risk endoscopes.