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Diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Forced Vital Capacity (FVC)—This is the maximum volume of air that can be forcibly exhaled after inhaling as deeply as possible.
- Residual Volume (RV)—This is the amount of air that remains in the lungs when measuring vital capacity after a maximal exhalation. In persons with COPD, RV is usually increased dramatically from normal because air is trapped in the damaged lung and cannot be exhaled normally.
- Total Lung Capacity (TLC)—This is the total amount of air the lungs are capable of holding. It is the combination of FVC and RV.
- Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 Second (FEV 1) —This measures the volume of air that can be forcibly exhaled in one second. It represents the rate of air movement out of the lungs. FEV 1 typically declines a very small amount per year in normal persons. But, the decline can be several times greater in people with COPD.
- Peak expiratory flow (PEF)—Maximum speed of exhalation after after maximal inhalation.
- Arterial blood gases—Analyze the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your bloodstream.
- Levels of Alpha-1-Antitrypsin—This is an important protein that helps protect the lungs from damage due to inflammation. Persons who develop COPD at an early age, or who develop the disease but never smoked, may have abnormally low levels of this protein due to a genetic defect.
About COPD. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/copd/about-copd. Accessed February 24, 2014.
COPD. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 20, 2014. Accessed February 24, 2014.
What is COPD? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd. Updated July 31, 2013. Accessed February 24, 2014.
What you can do about a lung disease called COPD. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease website. Available at: http://www.goldcopd.org/uploads/users/files/GOLD%5FPatient%5FRevJan10.pdf. Accessed February 24, 2014.
- Reviewer: Peter J. Lucas, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 00/22/2014