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September 1988

Predicting Response to Bronchodilator Therapy in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Author Affiliations

Pulmonary/Critical Care Division University of Massachusetts Medical School 55 Lake Ave N Worcester, MA 01655

Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(9):1909-1910. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380090011004

Although the diagnosis and assessment of airflow obstruction is accomplished by pulmonary function test measurements (PFTs),1 it has recently become clear that comparing PFTs before and after bronchodilator (BD) is of limited value either to (1) separate chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) from asthma2 or (2) predict the long-term clinical response of patients with COPD to BD therapy.3 The article by Guyatt et al4 in this issue of the Archives adds to the growing evidence that PFTs before and after BD are indeed imperfect guides to predicting clinical response to BD therapy in COPD. We will review the potential reasons that may explain this finding.

See also p 1949.

Traditionally, the mainstay of therapy in COPD has been the use of pharmacologic agents directed at improving the basic physiologic abnormality of chronic airflow obstruction.5 The principal BDs used have been a variety of inhaled sympathomimetic