14 February 2018
Although COPD exacerbations are known to occur more frequently in winter, there is little information on hospitalizations and cause-specific mortality. This study aimed to examine seasonal variations in mortality and exacerbations in patients with COPD during the TIOtropium Safety and Performance In Respimat ® (TIOSPIR ®) trial.
TIOSPIR was a large-scale, multicenter trial, which assessed the safety and efficacy of tiotropium delivered via HandiHaler ® (18 μg once daily) or Respimat ® Soft Mist™ (2.5 or 5 μg once daily) inhaler in patients with COPD. Patients were aged ≥40 years, with a smoking history ≥10 pack-years, and post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second ≤70% and forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity ≤0.70. COPD exacerbations and deaths were monitored throughout the trial. The data were pooled to examine seasonal patterns. Southern hemisphere data were shifted by 6 months to align with northern hemisphere seasons.
TIOSPIR was conducted in 43 northern (n=15,968) and 7 southern (n=1,148) hemisphere (n=1,148) countries. The median duration of treatment was 835 days, with a mean follow-up of 2.3 years. Among 19,494 exacerbations, there were clear seasonal differences (winter, 6,646 [34.1%]; spring, 4,515 [23.2%]; summer, 3,198 [16.4%]; autumn, 5,135 [26.3%]). Exacerbations peaked in early winter (December in the northern hemisphere and June in the southern hemisphere), respiratory hospitalizations in midwinter, and respiratory deaths in early spring.
Although winter poses a 2-fold hazard for COPD exacerbations vs summer, respiratory deaths peak in early spring. These data suggest that seasonal intensification of preventive treatments may impact COPD morbidity and mortality.