There are no data to show conclusively that screening spirometry is effective in directing management decisions or in improving COPD outcomes in asymptomatic patients.[55] However, if COPD is diagnosed at an early stage and risk factors are eliminated, the rate of decline in lung function will dramatically decrease.[56]

The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines advocate early case-finding by performing spirometry in patients with symptoms and/or risk factors for COPD.[1] UK guidelines advise spirometry in all patients aged 35 years or older who are current or former smokers and have a chronic cough, to detect cases at an early stage. Clinicians should also consider conducting screening spirometry in all patients with findings compatible with emphysema on chest x-ray or computed tomography of the chest.[2] Significant pulmonary dysfunction may be present in asymptomatic smokers.

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