Symptoms of COPD

3) Medical Research Council dyspnoea (breathlessness) scale

During your appointment your doctor or nurse will assess your breathlessness to see how it affects your day to day living by asking a series of questions such as;

  • How far you can walk before you get breathless?
  • How fast you can walk on level ground or going up a hill?
  • How quickly you get breathless when you are walking?

These questions are part of an assessment known as the CAT score and the MRC score.

In the table below you can see the MRC score

1 2 3 4 5
Person with hiking boots and rucksack climbing hill Lady walking up steep hill with shopping bag getting breathless Man out of breath walk on flat road, road sign with 1 mile Person out of breath, leaning on a wall, 60 metres Person housebound, in their armchair
You are not troubled by breathlessness except on strenuous exercise. You are short of breath when hurrying on the level or walking up a slight hill. You walk slower than most people on the level, stop after a mile or so, or stop after 15 minutes walking at own pace. You stop for breath after walking about 100 yards (60 metres) or after a few minutes on level ground. You are too breathless to leave the house, or breathless when dressing or undressing.

Source: The MRC breathlessness scale adapted from Fletcher C.M, Discussion on the Diagnosis of Pulmonary Emphysema J R Soc Med September 1952 45: 576-586