Background: Spirometry is more and more frequently used for the diagnosis of respiratory diseases in the elderly people. Unfortunately, reliable predictive values for the spirometric variables in the elderly are lacking.
Objectives: Data obtained from 429 subjects participating in the multicenter Italian study SARA on respiratory health in the elderly were analyzed in order to derive reference values for spirometry in the age range of 65-85 years. The second aim of this study was to assess the influence of variables describing many dimensions of the health status on the prediction of spirometric variables in that age range.
Methods: Subjects were recruited as consecutive outpatients referred during the study period to 24 geriatric or respiratory institutions distributed throughout Italy. Spirometries were performed using the same equipment by specifically trained and certified personnel supervised by a real-time quality control program. In addition to the standard anthropometric variables, covariates describing the affective, mental, and general health conditions were investigated through standardized questionnaires, to improve the modeling of spirometric outcomes.
Results: Reliable predictive values for forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) were produced (coefficient of determination, for FVC: R2 = 0.64; for FEV1: R2 = 0.54). The effect of general health conditions on spirometric outcomes accounted for the most part of the between-gender difference in the ageing-dependent decrease in lung function.
Conclusions: We suggest that a multidimensional approach to health problems should be used for a better interpretation of spirometric results in the elderly.
Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel