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      Fixed Ratio versus Lower Limit of Normality for Diagnosing COPD in Primary Care: Long-Term Follow-Up of EGARPOC Study

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          The best criterion for diagnosing airway obstruction in COPD, fixed ratio (FR: FEV1/FVC<0.7) or lower limit of normality (LLN), remains controversial. We compared the long-term evolution of COPD patients according to the initial obstruction criteria.

          Patients and Methods

          Between 2005 and 2008, we evaluated 1728 subjects over 45 years of age with smoking history, pertaining to a primary care center. A total of 424 patients were obstructive by FR, after a bronchodilator test. Of those, 289 patients met obstruction criteria for both FR and LLN and were considered concordant patients (FR+LLN+), while 135 patients were obstructive by FR but non-obstructive by LLN and were defined as discordant patients (FR+LLN-).


          Forty-eight patients (11.3%) were lost in follow-up, and 158 died (37.3%). After a median time of 120.4 months (IQR 25–75%: 110.2–128.8), 215 patients were spirometrically reevaluated. The annualized loss of FEV1/FVC was greater in discordant (FR+LLN-) patients [0.54 (0.8) vs 0.82 (0.7); p = 0.008], while 81% became concordant (FR+LLN+) during the follow-up. Hospitalization for COPD exacerbations was more frequent in concordant (FR+LLN+) patients (1.57±3.51 vs 0.77±2.29; p = 0.002). Adjusting for age, concordant (FR+LLN+) patients had greater COPD mortality (HR: 2.97; CI 95%: 1.27–7.3; p = 0.02).


          LLN seems to be less useful for COPD diagnosis in primary care. Discordant (FR+LLN-) patients lost more FEV1/FVC during their evolution and tended to become concordant. LLN predicted COPD hospitalizations and mortality more poorly.

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          Most cited references 32

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          2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines

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            The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) statement: guidelines for reporting observational studies.

            Much biomedical research is observational. The reporting of such research is often inadequate, which hampers the assessment of its strengths and weaknesses and of a study's generalizability. The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Initiative developed recommendations on what should be included in an accurate and complete report of an observational study. We defined the scope of the recommendations to cover three main study designs: cohort, case-control and cross-sectional studies. We convened a two-day workshop, in September 2004, with methodologists, researchers and journal editors to draft a checklist of items. This list was subsequently revised during several meetings of the coordinating group and in e-mail discussions with the larger group of STROBE contributors, taking into account empirical evidence and methodological considerations. The workshop and the subsequent iterative process of consultation and revision resulted in a checklist of 22 items (the STROBE Statement) that relate to the title, abstract, introduction, methods, results and discussion sections of articles. Eighteen items are common to all three study designs and four are specific for cohort, case-control, or cross-sectional studies. A detailed Explanation and Elaboration document is published separately and is freely available on the web sites of PLoS Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology. We hope that the STROBE Statement will contribute to improving the quality of reporting of observational studies.
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              Clinical Significance of Symptoms in Smokers with Preserved Pulmonary Function.

              Currently, the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) requires a ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) to forced vital capacity (FVC) of less than 0.70 as assessed by spirometry after bronchodilator use. However, many smokers who do not meet this definition have respiratory symptoms.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                18 June 2020
                : 15
                : 1403-1413
                [1 ]Terrassa Sud Primary Care Center, Hospital Universitari Mutua Terrassa, University of Barcelona , Barcelona, Spain
                [2 ]Fundació Docència i Recerca Mutua Terrassa , Barcelona, Spain
                [3 ]Internal Medicine Service, Hospital Universitari Mutua Terrassa, University of Barcelona , Barcelona, Spain
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Montserrat Llordés Terrassa Sud Primary Care Center, Hospital Universitari Mutua Terrassa , Avenida Santa Eulalia s/n, Terrassa, Barcelona08223, SpainTel +34 93 785 51 61Fax +34 93 731 49 52 Email
                © 2020 Llordés et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 4, References: 42, Pages: 11
                Funded by: Research and Teaching Foundation Mutua Terrassa
                This study won a competitive scholarship in the XIII edition of Grants of Research and Teaching Foundation Mutua Terrassa for research projects carried out in the Primary Care environment (Grant FMT 2015 Mod A). The award helped finance completion of the study.
                Original Research

                Respiratory medicine

                mortality, copd, airway obstruction, prognosis, fixed ratio, lower limit of normality


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