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      COPD exacerbations by disease severity in England

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          Exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are associated with accelerated disease progression and are important drivers of health care resource utilization. The study aimed to quantify the rates of COPD exacerbations in England and assess health care resource utilization by severity categories according to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) 2013.


          Data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink linked to Hospital Episode Statistics were used to identify patients with a COPD diagnosis aged ≥40 years. Those with complete spirometric, modified Medical Research Council Dyspnea Scale information, and exacerbation history 12 months prior to January 1, 2011 (index date) were classified into GOLD severity groups. Study outcomes over follow-up (up to December 31, 2013) were exacerbation rates and resource utilization (general practitioner visits, hospital admissions).


          From the 44,201 patients in the study cohort, 83.5% were classified into severity levels GOLD A: 33.8%, GOLD B: 21.0%, GOLD C: 18.1%, and GOLD D: 27.0%. Mean age at diagnosis was 66 years and 52.0% were male. Annual exacerbation rates per person-year increased with severity, from 0.83 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.81–0.85) for GOLD A to 2.51 (95% CI: 2.47–2.55) for GOLD D. General practitioner visit rates per person-year also increased with severity, from 4.82 (95% CI: 4.74–4.93) for GOLD A to 7.44 (95% CI: 7.31–7.61) for GOLD D. COPD-related hospitalization rates per person-year increased from less symptoms (GOLD A: 0.28, GOLD C: 0.39) to more symptoms (GOLD B: 0.52, GOLD D: 0.84).


          Patients in the most severe category (GOLD D) experienced nearly three times the number of exacerbations and COPD-related hospitalizations as those in the least severe category (GOLD A), in addition to increased general practitioner visits. Better patient management to stabilize the disease progression could allow for an improvement in exacerbation frequency and a reduction in health care resource utilization.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Global strategy for the diagnosis, management and prevention of COPD

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            Comorbidities in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

            Comorbidities such as cardiac disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoporosis, and psychological disorders are commonly reported in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but with great variability in reported prevalence. Tobacco smoking is a risk factor for many of these comorbidities as well as for COPD, making it difficult to draw conclusions about the relationship between COPD and these comorbidities. However, recent large epidemiologic studies have confirmed the independent detrimental effects of these comorbidities on patients with COPD. On the other hand, many of these comorbidities are now considered to be part of the commonly prevalent nonpulmonary sequelae of COPD that are relevant not only to the understanding of the real burden of COPD but also to the development of effective management strategies.
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              COPD exacerbations .1: Epidemiology.

              The epidemiology of exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is reviewed with particular reference to the definition, frequency, time course, natural history and seasonality, and their relationship with decline in lung function, disease severity and mortality. The importance of distinguishing between recurrent and relapsed exacerbations is discussed.

                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
                01 April 2016
                : 11
                : 697-709
                [1 ]Real-World Evidence, Evidera, UK
                [2 ]Takeda Development Centre Europe Ltd, London, UK
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Mireia Raluy-Callado, Real-World Evidence, Evidera, Metro Building, 6th Floor, 1 Butterwick, London, W6 8DL, UK, Tel +44 20 857 65000, Fax +44 20 857 65195, Email mireia.raluy@
                © 2016 Merinopoulou 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.

                Original Research

                Respiratory medicine

                gold 2013, copd, exacerbation, resource use, admissions, england


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