Forced expiratory volume (FEV1) is a pulmonary function test that calculates the amount of air that a person can force out of their lungs in one second. FEV1 measurements can help doctors diagnose chronic lung diseases such as COPD. It can also help them determine the severity the disorder.
COPD is a general term used to describe any conditions that causes chronic obstruction to normal breathing. The most common conditions associated with COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Low FEV1 measurements indicate the presence of COPD.
Although there is a normal range for FEV1 measurements, the definition of a normal range varies according to four factors:
A calculator available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides individuals the ability to determine if their FEV1 values are in the normal range for their age, gender, height, and race.
Based on an individual’s FEV1 value, the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) defined 4 four distinct levels of COPD: mild, moderate, severe, and very severe
- Mild COPD is indicated by an FEV1 level 80% – 95% of normal.
- Moderate COPD is indicated by an FEV1 level 50% – 80% of normal.
- Severe COPD is indicated by an FEV1 level 30% – 49% of normal.
- Very severe COPD is indicated by an FEV1 below 30% of normal.
It is important to note that the connection between the symptoms of COPD and the severity of COPD is highly variable. An examination by a pulmonary specialist is always required to assess the best strategy for dealing with COPD, and determining the precise meaning of a FEV1 measurement.
Although FEV1 measurements are an important indicator of COPD, physicians will generally use a variety of tests to determine and evaluate the severity of an individual’s COPD and the best treatment for it.
The takeaway message for us is that if we experience chronic breathing difficulties, coughing, or mucus production, we should see a pulmonary specialist as soon as possible. Among other things, we should expect an FEV1 test. The earlier we seek help for this medical condition, along with the testing required for an accurate diagnosis, the better the outcome we can expect.
Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in the scenic beach town of Keansburg, NJ, specializes in pulmonary care. Headed by leading pulmonary specialist Dr. Avtar Parhar, our program is the most highly advanced pulmonary rehabilitation program in Monmouth County. At Laurel Bay, we focus on restorative and preventive care for those who suffer with chronic respiratory disease.
Or better yet, come see for yourself. Contact us to schedule a tour by clicking here or by calling (372) 787-8100.