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Advance for Respiratory Care & Sleep Medicine • January 2017

13 ADVANCE FOR RESPIRATORY CARE & SLEEP MEDICINE VAEs AADDVVAANNCCEE FFOORR RREESSPPIIRRAATTOORRYY CCAARREE && SSLLEEEEPP MMEEDDIICCIINNEE VPAUELsMONARY FUNCTION JANUARY 2017 or exposures to risk factors, such as smoking. While spirometry is known and widely available, these pulmonary function tests continue to be underutilized. Spirometry helps find the presence of the obstruction as it occurs in COPD before symptoms develop. Other pulmonary function tests, diffusing capacity (DLCO) and measurement of lung volumes, can provide information about the overall impact of the disease and can be valuable in resolving diagnostic uncertainties and assessing patients for surgery. In addition to spirometry, the DLCO test can provide decisive information for respiratory therapists and physicians to help precisely diagnose respiratory conditions. In addition, DLCO testing is the most powerful predictor of survival in COPD patients. It measures the ability of the lungs to transfer gas from inhaled air to the red blood cells in pulmonary capillaries. DLCO testing can help distinguish pulmonary from cardiac issues and emphysema from chronic bronchitis. The combination of spirometry and DLCO testing can be a one-two punch for both respiratory therapists and PCPs to more accurately detect and treat chronic lung disease. Acting as a one-two punch, spirometry and DLCO testing allow for earlier detection of lung disease, creating differential diagnosis from COPD to asthma to cardiovascular disease and deciding the correct decision for immediate start of treatment at the point of care. Both spirometry screenings and DLCO testing should be centralized to occur at the point of care — moving these tests beyond the lung function lab into doctors’ offices, making it convenient for patients and achieving an earlier diagnosis. Even with normal spirometry results, people with low DLCO are still at significant risk of developing COPD,1 showing the importance of using a spirometer and DLCO test in combination for the most accurate diagnosis. In addition to making these tools available, it is important to offer training and educate physicians and nurses that spirometry and DLCO testing are easy to use and reliable, and can enable them to make the best decisions about lung health. Studies show that low utilization of spirometry among PCPs may be due to a lack of education about its importance. With enhanced ability to better detect chronic respiratory conditions through these solutions, primary care physicians will be The combination of spirometry and DLCO testing can be a one-two punch for both respiratory therapists and PCPs to more accurately detect and treat chronic lung disease.”


Advance for Respiratory Care & Sleep Medicine • January 2017
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