How well do your lungs work? Your primary care provider may now be able to answer that question for you at your next check-up. Thanks to a collaboration with the Tri-County Health Network and National Jewish Hospital, the Telluride Regional Medical Center now offers spirometry testing, a simple, noninvasive method of measuring lung function and diagnosing respiratory conditions, such as, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

According to National Jewish Hospital, 25% of smokers over the age of 45 are living with an undiagnosed respiratory condition.

“Most people aren’t aware, but COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer,” said Dr. Sharon Grundy, primary care director at the medical center. “Early detection and intervention is essential for improving a patient’s quality of life over time.”

In November, Tri-County Health Network dispatched their educational partners from Southwestern Colorado Area Health Education Center to the Placerville firehouse to conduct a one-day spirometry training for surrounding clinics.

Spirometry testing measures how much air a patient can inhale and forcibly exhale over a given period of time to make judgements about current lung function. According to Dr. Grundy, “millions of smokers are living with COPD and don’t know it. We can now work to identify those patients in the early stages of the disease so we can make proactive adjustments to their care plan.”

Smokers, reformed smokers, or anyone exhibiting respiratory symptoms are likely to benefit from spirometry testing. Already, providers at the medical center have detected an asthmatic patient and another with early stages of COPD since they initiated the testing.

Patients interested in spirometry should call the medical center to make an appointment with a primary care provider.