HealthDay News — Primary care clinicians may be missing early opportunities to diagnose chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), results of a retrospective analysis of a clinical cohort in the United Kingdom suggest.

Rupert C.M. Jones, MD, from Plymouth University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from 38,859 patients 40 years or older who had been diagnosed with COPD between 1990 and 2009, and who had data available in the General Practice Research and Optimum Patient Care Research Databases for at least two years before diagnosis and one year after diagnosis. The findings were published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Overall, 85% of patients had visited their primary care doctor for lower respiratory symptoms in the five years before receiving a COPD diagnosis. Missed opportunities were also found for 58% of patients six to 10 years before diagnosis and 42% of patients 11 to 15 years before diagnosis.

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Over this period, age at diagnosis decreased, the annual frequency of lower respiratory prescribing consultations decreased, and the prevalence of most comorbidities increased.

“Opportunities to diagnose COPD at an earlier stage are being missed, and could be improved by casefinding in patients with lower respiratory tract symptoms and concordant long-term comorbidities,” Jones and colleagues concluded.


  1. Jones RC et al. Lancet Respir Med. 2014;2(4): 267-276.