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British Lung Foundation
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Spirometry result interpretations

Hi everyone,

I just wondered if anyone can offer advice on my sisters Spirometry results. I’ve tried to look on the internet but it always takes you to medical sites so gets too complicated. We’re trying to build her case for an ESA appeal as well as arm myself with as much information as I can as I’ll be going with her.

She’s 38, struggles to walk far without stopping to catch her breath and I am known to walk slow but she can’t keep up. She has to stop a couple of times when climbing stairs and sometimes has to stop in the middle of crossing the road to get her breath. She finds most things hard now but when she says she’s breathless to professionals, she actually means the times she fights to get her breath rather than what healthy people describe as breathless as she’s always like that.

FEV 0.84, FVC 1.77

FEV1/FVC 47%

FEV1 28% predicted

Baseline sp02 93%

Her doctor has written a letter saying he’s surprised she was declared 100% fit for work as her lung function is at best 50% of what it should be.

Her doctor says that her MRC breathlessness scale is graded as 3, is this an actual test or just my sister answering questions?

Basically what i’m trying to find out is, does her young age hide some of her low results? Would it be normal for someone with these results to be declared 100% fit for work?

When I’m with her I see how bad she is but others don’t seem to think she’s that bad (she gets embarrassed so hides it).

Do any of you have similar Spirometry results and struggle or do you think it’s her depression on top that’s amplifying her breathing due to anxiety? She says if she gets anxious, it’s much harder to breathe.

Sorry for all the questions, thank you

9 Replies

Hi Laurie

I suggest you phone the British Lung Foundation helpline, they will give you the right information about the spirometry results and point you in the right direction.

Good luck x

1 like

Hi Laurie. I think the MRC breathlessness grade is calculated following a questionnaire completed by the patient. It's been in use for years. I thought it had been largely replaced by the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire, but as the latter takes into account the effect on the patient's lifestyle, you can see why it suits the DWP to use the MRC scale!

I expect your sister's breathing IS made worse by her anxiety, but anxiety & depression are taken into account too. Does her prescription include antidepressants & tranquillisers? That would back up her case. I've come across much older members here, with lower results than your sister, who are still working (not judging her, just pointing out how being more positive can increase your ability to work.) So there's no "normal", it all depends on the individual.

Bear in mind the DWP will say things like, well she might not be able to do some jobs, but she could probably (for example) work in an office, where she doesn't have to move around much. And that going to work might improve her depression.

From what I've read, though, I think - hope - you'll find the appeals panel much more sympathetic than the DWP. Your sister's very lucky to have your support.

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Thank you


Hi hun I'm.new to all this myself so sorry can't offer advice, but I know some lovely person on here will, I have a question for you though please if you wouldn't mind, can I ask how your sister got her results please did you have to ask the hospital especially xx


The Spirometry nurse gave her a copy of the printout as she felt the ESA assessment was wrong (the assessor said she wasn’t doing it properly as the results were so low) and we also got a copy of her doctors records to back up her appeal and her past results were in there

1 like

Thankyou xx


I think it is quite difficult ha ing breathing problems. You swing from being on top of the world when you are well to the depths of despare when you are constantly ill.

Then there is the frustration of just not being able to do everytjing you would like to. The winter weather makes going out difficult. The tiredness some days after doing medication i just fall asleep.

I find just looking after myself is enough.

At the end of the day we have to accept where we are maki g the most of each day. Just keep picking yourself up and carry on.

Dont know if there is anything there that is helpful. Wishing you all the best.


Thank you, wishing you all the best


Finally plucked up courage to ring BLF for help to find out if my sisters condition is as bad as it sounds, percentage wise, and they can’t help interpret spirometry results so we have to ask the spirometry nurse or doctor but the trouble is, my sister doesn’t want to hear ☹️

She’s given authority for the doctors to talk to me about her condition, but I can’t see me getting an appointment to get answers. Her hospital consultant always told things straight (she hasn’t been to hospital for years) but her GP doesn’t go in to detail.


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