Screen for COPD in smokers over 40

Smokers over 40 should be screened for COPD, say experts after UK research showed such a programme could detect up to 20 per cent of undiagnosed cases.

It is hoped that a COPD screening programme will be included in the modified quality framework or the NSF for COPD, which is due to be published in 2008.

The latest study involved 818 current and former smokers with no prior diagnosis of COPD. Participants underwent pre- and post-bronchodilator spirometry.

COPD was diagnosed in 19 per cent of patients who had a post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC below 70. Using severity criteria from the Global Initiative for COPD (GOLD), 6 per cent of these patients had severe COPD and 37 per cent moderate COPD.

Somerset GP Dr Steve Holmes, chairman of the Gen-eral Practice Airways Group (GPIAG), said that with the pick-up rate, screening for COPD was justified. ‘This may come out in the NSF for COPD. We’ve put it forward for consideration in the quality framework,’ he said.

Professor Neil Barnes, from the London Chest Hospital, said a screening programme would boost early intervention.

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