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Diagnostic Criteria of COPD Severity

Dear Ask The Doctor:
Hi i have been diagnosed with severe copd.fev1 53%.im not that bad really.i havent had any inhalers for ages and feel just the same.i do cough in the morning mainly and have mucus.i would only get breathless if i was running or lifting heavy weights.i am not breathless now.i blew 10 balloons up last night and felt fine.so why am i classed as severe.thankyou


Classifying the severity of COPD depends on symptoms (e.g. chronic cough and sputum production) and more importantly, spirometry results. You mentioned that your FEV1 is 53 %. There is also another more important value which is the FVC. The FEV1/FVC ratio is important to classify COPD. If the FEV1/FVC ratios is <0.7, it is classified as severe. If the value you mentioned is indeed the FEV1, try asking your doctor about your FVC value. For example: FEV1=53%, FVC = 76%; 53 divided by 76 = 0.69 (which is <0.7). So try asking your doctor if your FVC is 76% or higher; if it is then the ratio should be < 0.7 therefore; that is the reason it is being classified as severe, with or without symptoms. I hope this helps. Take care always.

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