Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with persistent systemic inflammation. Anti-inflammatory therapies have been shown to decrease acute exacerbations of COPD. The antidiabetic medication metformin decreases oxidative stress and inflammation and may benefit patients with COPD. We aimed at investigating the effect of metformin on health care utilizations in patients with coexisting COPD and diabetes mellitus (DM).
We studied 5% Medicare beneficiaries with coexisting COPD and DM prescribed metformin or other antidiabetics during the period 2007–2010. The primary outcome was COPD-specific emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalizations; the secondary outcome was all-cause ER visits and hospitalizations over the 2-year follow-up after the index antidiabetic prescription. The effects of metformin were examined by COPD complexity and compared with the effects of other antidiabetic medications.
Among 11,260 patients, 3,193 were metformin users and 8,067 were nonusers. Metformin users were younger, were less sick, were less likely to be on oxygen, and had fewer hospitalizations in the prior year compared with the nonusers. Over a 2-year period, metformin users had lower COPD-specific and all-cause ER visits and hospitalizations (7.11% vs 9.61%, p<0.0001; and 61.63% vs 71.27%, p<0.0001, respectively). In a stratified multivariable analysis, the odds of COPD-specific ER visits and hospitalizations were lower in patients with low-complexity COPD (adjusted odds ratio =0.66, 95% confidence interval =0.52–0.85). However, patients with all COPD complexities get benefits of metformin on all-cause ER visits and hospitalizations.