Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Almost everyone who develops COPD has smoked at some point in his or her life. Why some people who smoke develop COPD and others do not, however, is not clear. Other less common causes of COPD include air pollution and a congenital deficiency of a lung-protective protein, known as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.
1. Most with COPD are smokers, past or current.
2. Other causes include pollution and congenital defects.
COPD is diagnosed by spirometry, a type of pulmonary function test in which you exhale rapidly and forcefully into a tube. The forced expiratory volume, or FEV1, is the amount of air you can exhale in 1 second. COPD is diagnosed when the FEV1 is less that 80% of the normal value and the ratio of the FEV1 to the forced vital capacity (the total amount of air you can expire) is less than 0.7.
Your doctor may do other testing as well, such as a chest x-ray and blood test for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. COPD can affect the heart, so your doctor may also want to order tests to evaluate your heart.
1. Diagnosis made by spirometry.
2. Additional testing may be done, as recommended by your doctor.
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