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Frequency and risk factors of COPD exacerbations and hospitalizations: a nationwide study in Greece (Greek Obstructive Lung Disease Epidemiology and health ecoNomics: GOLDEN study)

Authors Alexopoulos E, Malli F, Mitsiki E, Bania E, Varounis C, Gourgoulianis K

Received 29 June 2015

Accepted for publication 7 November 2015

Published 11 December 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 2665—2674


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Evangelos C Alexopoulos,1 Foteini Malli,2 Eirini Mitsiki,3 Eleni G Bania,2 Christos Varounis,3 Konstantinos I Gourgoulianis1

1School of Social Sciences, Hellenic Open University, Patras, 2Respiratory Medicine Department, University of Thessaly Medical School, University Hospital of Larissa, Larissa, 3Medical Department, Novartis Hellas, Athens, Greece

Background: COPD exacerbations and hospitalizations have been associated with poor prognosis for the COPD patient.
Objective: To evaluate the frequency and risk factors of COPD exacerbations, hospitalizations, and admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) in Greece by a nationwide cross-sectional study.
Materials and methods: A nationwide observational, multicenter, cross-sectional study was conducted in the clinical practice setting of respiratory medicine physicians over a 6 month-period (October 2010 to March 2011). A total of 6,125 COPD patients were recruited by 199 respiratory physicians.
Results: Participants had a median age of 68.0 years, 71.3% were males, and 71.8% suffered from comorbidities. The median disease duration was 10.0 years. Of the patients, 45.3% were classified as having GOLD (Global initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease) stage III or IV COPD. Patients with four or more comorbidities had 78.5% and threefold-higher than expected number of exacerbations and hospitalizations, respectively, as well as fivefold-higher risk of admission to the ICU compared to those with no comorbidities. Obese patients had 6.2% fewer expected exacerbations compared to those with a normal body mass index. Patients with GOLD stage IV had 74.5% and fivefold-higher expected number of exacerbations and hospitalizations, respectively, and nearly threefold-higher risk of admission to the ICU compared to stage I patients. An additional risk factor for exacerbations and hospitalizations was low compliance with treatment: 45% of patients reported forgetting to take their medication, and 81% reported a preference for a treatment with a lower dosing frequency.
Conclusion: Comorbidities, disease severity, and compliance with treatment were identified as the most notable risk factors for exacerbations, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions. The results point to the need for a multifactorial approach for the COPD patient and for the development of strategies that can increase patient compliance with treatment.

Keywords: COPD, exacerbations, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, risk factors

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