(HealthDay News) — Low forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) in early adulthood without accelerated decline in FEV1 correlates with later chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study published in the July 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Peter Lange, MD, DrMedSci, from Copenhagen University in Denmark, and colleagues determined the rate of decline in FEV1 over time among participants from three independent cohorts according to the FEV1 at cohort inception and COPD status at study end.
The researchers found that after 22 years of observation, 26% of 657 participants who had an FEV1 of <80% of the predicted value before 40 years of age had COPD, compared with 7% of the 2,207 individuals with a baseline FEV1 of at least 80% of the predicted value before 40 years of age (P<0.001). Of the 332 individuals with COPD at the end of the observation period, approximately half had a normal FEV1 before 40 years of age and had rapid decline thereafter (mean decline of 53ml per year); the remaining half had low FEV1 in early adulthood and a mean decline of 27ml per year (P<0.001), despite similar smoking exposure.
“Our study suggests that low FEV1 in early adulthood is important in the genesis of COPD and that accelerated decline in FEV1 is not an obligate feature of COPD,” the authors write.
The study was partially funded by GlaxoSmithKline.