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Forced expiratory volumes in 3 s is a sensitive clinical measure for assessment of bronchodilator reversibility in elderly Chinese with severe lung function impairment

Authors Pan M, Zhang H, Sun T

Received 9 December 2018

Accepted for publication 17 May 2019

Published 7 August 2019 Volume 2019:14 Pages 1803—1811

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S197552

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Chunxue Bai


Mingming Pan, Hongsheng Zhang, Tieying Sun

Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Beijing Hospital, National Center of Gerontology, Beijing, People’s Republic of China

Purpose: Sensitively assessing bronchial reversibility by spirometry is difficult in patients with serious airflow limitation and the elderly. Some patients cannot exhale for ≥6 s to achieve FVC testing criteria. The aim of this study was to assess if FEV3 could be a more sensitive and an acceptable surrogate for evaluating bronchial reversibility in such patients.
Patients and methods: Subjects who had undergone pulmonary function examination in Beijing hospital from July 2003 to April 2015 were included in the study. Patients with FEV1<50% of the predicted value were classified as the severely lung function–impaired group. Correlation between the severity of lung function impairment and changes in FEV1, FEV3 and FVC in response to a bronchodilator was estimated.
Results: A total of 7745 tests on elderly subjects with a median age of 71 years were reviewed. The severely lung function–impaired group of 1728 accounted for 22.3% of the total number of subjects. There were significantly more patients in the severely lung function–impaired group who exhibited positive response in FEV3 or FVC and negative response in FEV1 after bronchodilator test (FEV1 negative response but FVC positive response, χ2=626.97, P<0.001; FEV1 negative response but FEV3 positive response, χ2=372.83, P<0.001). With the progressive increase in lung function impairment, ΔFEV1 increased and then declined, while ΔFVC and ΔFEV3 increased progressively. Changes in FEV3 or FVC significantly exceeded the change in FEV1 in the severely lung function–impaired groups (P<0.001).
Conclusion: In elderly subjects, especially those with severe lung function impairment, FEV3 combined with FVC is a more effective and sensitive primary clinical outcome measure to detect bronchial reversibility. In subjects who cannot complete ≥6 s forced expiration and whose FVC is unreliable, FEV3 combined with FEV1 might be clinically more valuable in detecting bronchial reversibility.

Keywords: airway obstruction, FEV3, forced expiratory volume in 3 second, bronchodilator responsiveness, lung function tests, elderly patients

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