Study objective: Diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide (DLCO) is frequently assessed as part of a thorough pulmonary function assessment in patients with pulmonary or cardiopulmonary diseases. However, little information regarding the longitudinal trends of DLCO is available. In this study, we examined the temporal trends in DLCO to determine the effects of smoking and changes in smoking habits. Design: A longitudinal study was recently conducted in the Po River Delta area of northern Italy, in which DLCO measurements were taken approximately 8 years apart in the same subjects; this offered the unique opportunity to assess the temporal changes in DLCO. The longitudinal DLCO data were analyzed independently in two age groups (20 to 40 years, and ≥ 40 years) using a repeated-measures analysis. Results: Included were 928 subjects > 20 years old who had DLCO assessments both at baseline and follow-up. Male subjects had higher mean levels of DLCO than female subjects in the older age group (≥ 40 years). Continuous smokers had significantly lower DLCO levels than "never-smokers," but their changes in DLCO during follow-up were the same. This suggests that the lung damage due to smoking had occurred prior to DLCO testing. We also found that the annual decline in DLCO accelerated with age in adults ≥ 40 years old. Conclusions: We conclude that in adults ≥ 40 years of age from the general population, DLCO accelerates downwards regardless of gender, smoking, and initial FEV1 level.
- Diffusing capacity
- General population
- Lung function trends
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine