Fast Five Quiz: Differential Diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Zab Mosenifar, MD


February 04, 2022

Congestive heart failure can present with many of the same symptoms as COPD, namely wheezing, crackling at the base of the lungs, and worsening dyspnea. An easy test to differentiate COPD from congestive heart failure is peak expiratory flow. Lower peak expiratory flow (≤ 200 mL) is suggestive of airflow limitation, whereas higher numbers indicate congestive heart failure.

Increased bronchial hyperresponsiveness is normally present in congestive heart failure, not COPD.

Pulmonary-related acute dyspnea can be differentiated from heart failure–related acute dyspnea by the absence of a comet-tail sign on a lung ultrasound, even in patients with heart failure.

Learn more about how to differentiate COPD from congestive heart failure.


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