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The impact of SHS exposure on health status and exacerbations among patients with COPD

Authors Mark D Eisner, Carlos Iribarren, Edward H Yelin, Stephen Sidney, et al.

Published 6 May 2009 Volume 2009:4 Pages 169—176


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Mark D Eisner1,3, Carlos Iribarren3, Edward H Yelin2, Stephen Sidney3, Patricia P Katz2, Gabriela Sanchez3, Paul D Blanc1

1Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine; 2Institute for Health Policy Studies, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA; 3Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA, USA

Abstract: Secondhand smoke (SHS) is a major contributor to indoor air pollution. Because it contains respiratory irritants, it may adversely influence the clinical course of persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We used data from nonsmoking members of the FLOW cohort of COPD (n = 809) to elucidate the impact of SHS exposure on health status and exacerbations (requiring emergency department visits or hospitalization). SHS exposure was measured by a validated survey instrument (hours of exposure during the past week). Physical health status was measured by the SF-12 Physical Component Summary Score and disease-specific health-related quality of life (HRQL) by the Airways Questionnaire 20-R. Health care utilization for COPD was determined from Kaiser Permanente Northern California computerized databases. Compared to no SHS exposure, higher level SHS exposure was associated with poorer physical health status (mean score decrement −1.78 points; 95% confidence interval [CI] −3.48 to −0.074 points) after controlling for potential confounders. Higher level SHS exposure was also related to poorer disease-specific HRQL (mean score increment 0.63; 95% CI 0.016 to 1.25) and less distance walked during the Six-Minute Walk test (mean decrement −50 feet; 95% CI −102 to 1.9). Both lower level and higher level SHS exposure was related to increased risk of emergency department (ED) visits (hazard ratio [HR] 1.40; 95% CI 0.96 to 2.05 and HR 1.41; 95% CI 0.94 to 2.13). Lower level and higher level SHS exposure were associated with a greater risk of hospital-based care for COPD, which was a composite endpoint of either ED visits or hospitalizations for COPD (HR 1.52; 95% CI 1.06 to 2.18 and HR 1.40; 95% CI 0.94 to 2.10, respectively). In conclusion, SHS was associated with poorer health status and a greater risk of COPD exacerbation. COPD patients may comprise a vulnerable population for the health effects of SHS.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary emphysema, tobacco smoke pollution

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