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      Prevalence of Asthma Characteristics in COPD Patients in a Dutch Well-Established Asthma/COPD Service for Primary Care

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          Primary care COPD guidelines indicate that COPD patients with asthma characteristics should be treated as having asthma. This study aims to describe the prevalence of asthma characteristics in patients with a pulmonologist-confirmed working diagnosis of COPD or ACO.

          Patients and Methods

          This retrospective cross-sectional study used real-life data (collected between 2007 and 2017) from a Dutch asthma/COPD-service, a structured web-based system in which pulmonologists support general practitioners in their diagnosis of patients with suspicion of obstructive lung disease. The prevalence of asthma characteristics (history of asthma, atopy, symptoms, and reversibility) and blood eosinophil (Eos) counts were assessed in patients with a working diagnosis of COPD or ACO.


          Of the 14,141 patients, ≥40 years in the dataset, 4475 (31.6%) were diagnosed with asthma, 3532 (25.0%) with COPD, and 1276 (9.0%) with ACO. Asthma characteristics were present in 65.6% (n=1956) of the COPD and 90.9% (n=1059) of the ACO patients. Eos counts of ≥ 300 cells per μL were found in 35.7% (n=924) of the COPD patients and 35.3% (n=341) of the ACO patients.


          In this group of COPD and ACO patients remotely diagnosed by pulmonologists, a substantial proportion would be considered to have asthma characteristics according to the guidelines. This may explain the high number of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) prescriptions found in primary care COPD patients. Prospective studies are necessary to identify patients who may or may not benefit from ICS containing treatment. Hence, personalized care in primary care can be optimized.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Blood eosinophil count and exacerbations in severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after withdrawal of inhaled corticosteroids: a post-hoc analysis of the WISDOM trial

          Blood eosinophil counts might predict response to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a history of exacerbations. We used data from the WISDOM trial to assess whether patients with COPD with higher blood eosinophil counts would be more likely to have exacerbations if ICS treatment was withdrawn.
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            Management of COPD in the UK primary-care setting: an analysis of real-life prescribing patterns

            Background Despite the availability of national and international guidelines, evidence suggests that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatment is not always prescribed according to recommendations. This study evaluated the current management of patients with COPD using a large UK primary-care database. Methods This analysis used electronic patient records and patient-completed questionnaires from the Optimum Patient Care Research Database. Data on current management were analyzed by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) group and presence or absence of a concomitant asthma diagnosis, in patients with a COPD diagnosis at ≥35 years of age and with spirometry results supportive of the COPD diagnosis. Results A total of 24,957 patients were analyzed, of whom 13,557 (54.3%) had moderate airflow limitation (GOLD Stage 2 COPD). The proportion of patients not receiving pharmacologic treatment for COPD was 17.0% in the total COPD population and 17.7% in the GOLD Stage 2 subset. Approximately 50% of patients in both cohorts were receiving inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), either in combination with a long-acting β2-agonist (LABA; 26.7% for both cohorts) or a LABA and a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA; 23.2% and 19.9%, respectively). ICS + LABA and ICS + LABA + LAMA were the most frequently used treatments in GOLD Groups A and B. Of patients without concomitant asthma, 53.7% of the total COPD population and 50.2% of the GOLD Stage 2 subset were receiving ICS. Of patients with GOLD Stage 2 COPD and no exacerbations in the previous year, 49% were prescribed ICS. A high proportion of GOLD Stage 2 COPD patients were symptomatic on their current management (36.6% with modified Medical Research Council score ≥2; 76.4% with COPD Assessment Test score ≥10). Conclusion COPD is not treated according to GOLD and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommendations in the UK primary-care setting. Some patients receive no treatment despite experiencing symptoms. Among those on treatment, most receive ICS irrespective of severity of airflow limitation, asthma diagnosis, and exacerbation history. Many patients on treatment continue to have symptoms.
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              Predictors of exacerbation risk and response to budesonide in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a post-hoc analysis of three randomised trials.

              The peripheral blood eosinophil count might help identify those patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who will experience fewer exacerbations when taking inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). Previous post-hoc analyses have proposed eosinophil cutoffs that are both arbitrary and limited in evaluating complex interactions of treatment response. We modelled eosinophil count as a continuous variable to determine the characteristics that determine both exacerbation risk and clinical response to ICS in patients with COPD.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                06 July 2020
                : 15
                : 1601-1611
                [1 ]General Practitioners Research Institute , Groningen, the Netherlands
                [2 ]University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, GRIAC Research Institute , Groningen, the Netherlands
                [3 ]Department of Pulmonary Diseases and Tuberculosis, University Medical Center Groningen , Groningen, the Netherlands
                [4 ]Department of Pediatric Pulmonology and Pediatric Allergology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Beatrix Children’s Hospital , Groningen, the Netherlands
                [5 ]Astma/COPD Dienst, CERTE Laboratories , Groningen, the Netherlands
                [6 ]Department of General Practice and Elderly Care Medicine, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen , Groningen, the Netherlands
                [7 ]GlaxoSmithKline , Zeist, the Netherlands
                [8 ]Observational and Pragmatic Research Institute , Singapore
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Anna Jetske Baron Email
                © 2020 Baron et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (

                Page count
                Figures: 6, Tables: 1, References: 43, Pages: 11
                Funded by: General Practitioners Research Institute and GlaxoSmithKline BV
                This study is funded by General Practitioners Research Institute and GlaxoSmithKline BV.
                Original Research


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