Accuracy of pulmonary function tests in predicting exercise tolerance in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chest. 1984 Oct;86(4):564-7. doi: 10.1378/chest.86.4.564.


The ability of pulmonary function tests (PFTs) to predict exercise capacity was investigated by using linear regression analysis to quantify the relationships between: (1) maximum oxygen consumption during treadmill exercise and PFT parameters; and (2) total external work performed during treadmill exercise and PFT parameters. In a group containing 11 healthy subjects, nine with mild/moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and ten with severe COPD, both maximum oxygen consumption (measured directly) and total external work (calculated indirectly from the sum of its horizontal and vertical components) correlated most strongly with indices of expiratory airflow (FEV1, FEF25-75%), less strongly with indices of ventilatory output (MVV) and resting levels of oxygen (PO2, SaO2), and weakly with indices of hyperinflation (FRC) and carbon dioxide retention (PCO2). Thus, FEV1, accounting for 56 percent and 60 percent of the observed variation in oxygen consumption and external work, respectively, can predict exercise tolerance from PFT measurements with some accuracy. If a more accurate evaluation is required, exercise testing should be prescribed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Flow Rates
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Respiratory Function Tests*