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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Screening Tool Aims to Help Diagnose, Treat More People with COPD

A new tool shows promise in helping primary care physicians identify adults with undiagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to research published in JAMA

COPD, a progressive inflammatory lung disease, is a leading cause of death in the United States. More than 15 million Americans have been diagnosed and experts predict millions more have it but don’t know it.

The COPD Assessment in Primary Care to Identify Undiagnosed Respiratory Disease & Exacerbation Risk (CAPTURE), developed with support from NHLBI, was designed to identify adults with COPD symptoms severe enough to treat, but who haven’t received a diagnosis. 

After a multi-year-long clinical trial, researchers found CAPTURE successfully identified almost half of participants who had moderate to severe forms of previously undiagnosed COPD.  

Conducted at seven U.S. clinical research network centers from October 2018 to April 2022, the trial involved 4,325 adults, ages 45-80. By the end of the study, researchers discovered that 110 participants, 2.5% of the study sample, had moderate to severe forms of COPD. CAPTURE identified 53, or 48%, of these cases. However, it provided false positives for 479 participants, 11%, who did not have COPD. All participants received COPD testing, which is how researchers assessed the tool’s effectiveness. 

While the researchers said they are studying ways to improve CAPTURE’s accuracy, they emphasized the goal of the screening criteria is not to diagnose COPD, but to identify patients who would benefit from COPD testing. The gold standard for diagnosing the condition is through spirometry, a breathing test. 

Larger studies are underway to further assess CAPTURE and how physicians use the tool in practice. 

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