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      Acute exacerbations of COPD: risk factors for failure and relapse

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          Acute exacerbations are a leading cause of worsening COPD in terms of lung function decline, quality of life, and survival. They also have a relevant economic burden on the health care system. Determining the risk factors for acute exacerbation and early relapse could be a crucial element for a better management of COPD patients. This review analyzes the current knowledge and underlines the main risk factors for recurrent acute exacerbations. Comprehensive evaluation of COPD patients during stable phase and exacerbation could contribute to prevent treatment failure and relapses.

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          Most cited references 56

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          Risk factors for rehospitalisation in COPD: role of health status, anxiety and depression.

          The aim of the present study was to analyse the risk of rehospitalisation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and associated risk factors. This prospective study included 416 patients from a university hospital in each of the five Nordic countries. Data included demographic information, spirometry, comorbidity and 12 month follow-up for 406 patients. The hospital anxiety and depression scale and St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) were applied to all patients. The number of patients that had a re-admission within 12 months was 246 (60.6%). Patients that had a re-admission had lower lung function and health status. A low forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and health status were independent predictors for re-admission. Hazard ratio (HR; 95% CI) was 0.82 (0.74-0.90) per 10% increase of the predicted FEV1 and 1.06 (1.02-1.10) per 4 units increase in total SGRQ score. The risk of rehospitalisation was also increased in subjects with anxiety (HR 1.76 (1.16-2.68)) and in subjects with low health status (total SGRQ score >60 units). When comparing the different subscales in the SGRQ, the closest relation between the risk of rehospitalisation was seen with the activity scale (HR 1.07 (1.03-1.11) per 4 unit increase). In patients with low health status, anxiety is an important risk factor for rehospitalisation. This may be important for patient treatment and warrants further studies.
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            Temporal clustering of exacerbations in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

            Exacerbations are important events in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Preventing exacerbations is a key treatment goal. Observational data suggest that after a first exacerbation, patients may be at increased risk of a second exacerbation, but this has not been specifically studied. We hypothesized that exacerbations may cluster together in time, a finding that would have important implications for targeting preventative interventions and the analysis of clinical trial data. To assess whether exacerbations are random events, or cluster in time. A total of 297 patients in the London chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cohort recorded daily symptoms and were assessed for a total of 904 patient-years. The observed timing of second exacerbations after an initial exacerbation was compared with that expected should exacerbations occur randomly. The observed timing distribution of second exacerbations differed significantly (P < 0.001) from the expected exponential function (shape parameter of the fitted Weibull function, 0.966 [95% confidence interval, 0.948-0.985]), suggesting that more second exacerbations occurred sooner than later and that exacerbations cluster together in time. Twenty-seven percent of first exacerbations were followed by a second recurrent event within 8 weeks. Approximately one third of exacerbations were recurrent exacerbations. Although initial exacerbations were milder than isolated events, they were not less likely to receive treatment, and under-treatment of initial events is not a plausible explanation for exacerbation recurrence. Recurrent exacerbations contribute significantly to overall exacerbation frequency (rho = 0.81; P < 0.0001). Exacerbations are not random events but cluster together in time such that there is a high-risk period for recurrent exacerbation in the 8-week period after an initial excerbation.
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              Predictors of rehospitalization and death after a severe exacerbation of COPD.

              Patients who survive a severe exacerbation of COPD are at high risk of rehospitalization for COPD and death. The objective of this study was to determine predictors of these events in a large cohort of Veterans Affairs (VA) patients. We identified 51,353 patients who were discharged after an exacerbation of COPD in the VA health-care system from 1999 to 2003, and determined the rates of rehospitalization for COPD and death from all causes. Potential risk factors were assessed with univariate and multivariate survival analysis. On average, the cohort was elderly (mean age, 69 years), predominately white (78% white, 13% black, 3% other, and 6% unknown), and male (97%), consistent with the underlying VA population. The risk of death was 21% at 1 year, and 55% at 5 years. Independent risk factors for death were age, male gender, prior hospitalizations, and comorbidities including weight loss and pulmonary hypertension; nonwhite race and other comorbidities (asthma, hypertension, and obesity) were associated with decreased mortality. The risk of rehospitalization for COPD was 25% at 1 year, and 44% at 5 years, and was increased by age, male gender, prior hospitalizations, and comorbidities including asthma and pulmonary hypertension. Hispanic ethnicity and other comorbidities (diabetes and hypertension) were associated with a decreased risk of rehospitalization. Age, male gender, prior hospitalizations, and certain comorbid conditions were risk factors for death and rehospitalization in patients discharged after a severe COPD exacerbation. Nonwhite race and other comorbidities were associated with decreased risk.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                08 September 2017
                : 12
                : 2687-2693
                [1 ]Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, Università degli Studi di Milano
                [2 ]Internal Medicine Department, Respiratory Unit and Regional Adult Cystic Fibrosis Center, IRCCS Fondazione Cà Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan
                [3 ]Respiratory Unit, Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
                [4 ]Respiratory Disease Department, Servei de Pneumologia, Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron (HUVH), Institut de Recerca Vall d’Hebron (VHIR), Barcelona, Spain
                [5 ]Department of Medicine and Surgery, Respiratory Disease and Lung Function Unit, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
                [6 ]Hospital d’Igualada, Consorci Socisanitari de l’Anoia, Barcelona, Spain
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Paola Rogliani, Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Via Montpellier 1, 00133 Rome, Italy, Tel +39 6 7259 6666, Email paola.rogliani@
                © 2017 Mantero 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.


                Respiratory medicine

                infections, prevention, treatment, copd, exacerbations


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