Spirometry: A practical lifespan predictor of global health and chronic respiratory and non-respiratory diseases

Alvar Agusti, Leonardo M. Fabbri, Eugenio Baraldi, Bartolome Celli, Massimo Corradi, Rosa Faner, Fernando D. Martinez, Erik Melén, Alberto Papi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives. 1. To review and discuss available evidence supporting that spirometry is an overlooked global health marker, that could be used regularly through the lifespan to monitor human health and predict risk of chronic respiratory and other chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs). 2. To discuss the challenges and opportunities that this proposal faces.Summary of key data. First, spirometry is essential to assess and monitor respiratory health. Second, spirometry adds prognostic value to other well-accepted health markers used in clinical practice, such as blood pressure, body mass index, glucose and blood lipids, by identifying individuals at risk, not only of respiratory diseases, but also of other NCDs, particularly cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. Conclusion. Although we acknowledge that research gaps still exist, we propose that spirometry assessed during childhood, adolescence and early and late adulthood can be a reproducible, non-invasive, safe and affordable global health marker to identify individuals in the general population at risk of respiratory and non-respiratory NCDs. In this context, spirometry may act as the caged canaries that miners used to carry into mines to alert them of dangerous accumulations of gases, thus providing an early warning and save lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Internal Medicine
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • global health
  • lung development
  • non-communicable diseases
  • preterm birth
  • prevention
  • spirometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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