If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may know that breath pushed out in 1 second, also called forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), is a factor used to place patients in one of the 4 COPD stages. However, you may not be aware that there are 2 other variables that are also used in the in COPD stage placement.
2 Variables Used for COPD Stage Placement
In recent years, the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (GOLD) has moved away from using FEV1 alone to group patients into COPD stages. The GOLD guidelines are now also taking into account 2 previously overlooked variables, and these factors are the severity of an individual’s symptoms and the number of exacerbations, or extreme worsening of COPD symptoms, that resulted in hospitalization per year.
When combined with FEV1 values, these 2 factors allow doctors to more accurately place patients into one of the 4 COPD stages. For example, a patient who only gets short of breath walking quickly across a flat surface or up an incline and who has had only one exacerbation that didn’t require hospitalization would most likely be considered in COPD stage 1.
To be placed in stage 2, the severity of symptoms would be slightly worse. Stage 2 patients experience increased breathlessness that causes them to adjust their daily routine. For example, they might begin taking the elevator when they used to take the stairs. However, stage 2 patients don’t typically experience a higher number of hospitalization-worthy exacerbations than patients in stage 1.
For patients considered to be in COPD stage 3, the COPD symptoms the patient is experiencing have made any exercise very difficult, and the patient’s quality of life has begun to suffer as a result. A patient at this level is also likely to have experience one exacerbation that was severe enough to merit hospitalization.
In the final, or fourth, stage of COPD, breathlessness and other symptoms begin to affect even non-exercise movements. For instance, the patient may have difficulty breathing while getting dressed. Patients in stage 4 also typically experience frequent hospital visits because of extreme exacerbations.
Are You Ready to Find Effective Help for COPD?
Our health care team at Lung Health Institute is committed to helping COPD patients find natural and minimally invasive treatments for their symptoms.
For example, we offer 3 Anti-Inflammatory Initiative™, or AI2™, plans that may help boost your immune system and train your body to use fats to fight inflammation. We also offer cellular therapy that uses cells from your own blood in ways that may promote lung tissue healing and reduce inflammation.
Contact one of our patient coordinators today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.