Natural History of COPD Exacerbations in a General Practice Based COPD Population.

Rothnie, K.J. ; Müllerová, H. ; Smeeth, L. ; Quint, J.K. ;
Natural History of COPD Exacerbations in a General Practice Based COPD Population.
Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 2018;

Rationale Acute exacerbations (AECOPD) are important adverse events in the natural history of COPD. Objectives To investigate the natural history of AECOPD over 10-years of follow-up. Methods and Results We identified 99,574 patients with COPD 01/Jan/04-31/March/15 from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink. We defined moderate AECOPD as those managed outside hospital and severe as those requiring hospitalisation. During the baseline period (first year of follow-up), patients were grouped according to the number and severity of AECOPD and then followed for a maximum of 10 years (mean 4.9 years). We investigated the effect of baseline AECOPD number and severity on risk of further events and death. Around one-quarter of the COPD patients did not exacerbate during follow-up. Compared to no AECOPD in the baseline period, AECOPD number predicted the future long-term rate of AECOPD in a graduated fashion, ranging from HR 1.71(1.66-1.77) for one to HR 3.41(3.27-3.56) for 5+ events. Two or more moderate AECOPD were also associated with an increased risk of death in a graduated fashion, ranging from HR 1.10(1.03-1.18) for 2 moderate AECOPD to HR 1.57(1.45-1.70) for 5+ moderate AECOPD, compared to those with no AECOPD at baseline. Severe AECOPD were associated with an even higher risk of death (HR 1.79,1.65-1.94). Conclusions A large proportion of COPD patients do not exacerbate over a maximum 10 years of follow-up. AECOPD frequency in a single year predicts long-term AECOPD rate. Increasing frequency and severity of AECOPD is associated with risk of death, and highlights the importance of preventing AECOPD.