COPD Screening

COPD is a serious lung disease that, over time, makes it hard to breathe. It is the 4th leading cause of death and fourth leading cause of disability in the US. Also known by other names, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, the number of people with COPD is increasing. In the US, nearly 16 million people are currently diagnosed with COPD and millions more may have the disease and not know it.  

A breathing test (Spirometry) can detect COPD in its early stages.

What is a spirometry test?  A simple breathing test that measures how well your lungs are working. A device called a spirometer is used to measure how much air you can breathe out and how much time it takes you to do so.

Why would I need a spirometry test?  This test is used to help diagnose lung problems, such as asthma and COPD.  Spirometry is also used to check how well medicines are working. 

What happens during the test?  You will take in a deep breath and blow into a mouthpiece attached to the spirometer. You will blow out as hard and as fast as you can. Nose clips are sometimes used to make sure air is only coming out of your mouth. You will be asked to repeat the test at least three times for accurate results. The person doing the spirometry test will explain your test results to you right away.  You will also get a copy of your test results.  An average spirometry test lasts five to ten minutes.  

What do the test results mean?  The spirometry test measures two important numbers: forced expiratory volume (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC.) These numbers represent the volume of air you are able to breathe out in one second as well as the total volume of air you are breathing out. Your numbers are compared against numbers based on other people with the same gender, height and age as you. 

Who does the test?  Breathe New Hampshire has trained volunteers (including nurses, respiratory therapists and other health care providers) to conduct the tests at all Breathe NH community screenings. You can also ask your doctor about having your lungs tested with spirometry.

Thanks to initial funding through a subcontract with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), we are very pleased to be able to offer free breathing tests in New Hampshire.  

For more information about COPD screenings, please call our office at 603-669-2411 or email

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