For Health Care Professionals

Testing and Diagnosis

Diagnosis: Pulmonary Function Testing

  • Perform or refer for a lung function test-spirometry-to determine the severity. Spirometry with bronchodilator testing may distinguish COPD from asthma.
  • A criterion for diagnosis of COPD is a postbronchodilator FEV1/FVC < 0.7. These patients should receive professional assistance for smoking cessation.


Graphic indicating the progression of severity for treating COPD (least severe to most severe):  Self-Management Education and Smoking Cessation; Bronchodilators; Inhaled Corticosteroids; Pulmonary Rehabilitation; Oxygen; Surgery.



  • Aggressive management of COPD can make a difference for the patient.
  • Advances in therapies have been shown to improve survival or quality of life for COPD patients.