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Pre- and post-bronchodilator airway obstruction are associated with similar clinical characteristics but different prognosis – report from a population-based study

Authors Sawalha S, Hedman L, Rönmark E, Lundbäck B, Lindberg A

Received 16 November 2016

Accepted for publication 28 February 2017

Published 24 April 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 1269—1277


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Sami Sawalha,1 Linnea Hedman,2 Eva Rönmark,2 Bo Lundbäck,3 Anne Lindberg1

1Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Division of Medicine, 2Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, The OLIN Unit, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, 3Krefting Research Center, Institution of Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Introduction: According to guidelines, the diagnosis of COPD should be confirmed by post-bronchodilator (post-BD) airway obstruction on spirometry; however, in clinical practice, this is not always performed. The aim of this population-based study was to compare clinical characteristics and prognosis, assessed as mortality, between subjects with airway obstruction divided into pre- but not post-BD obstruction, post-BD airway obstruction (COPD), and subjects without airway obstruction.
Materials and methods: In 2002–2004, four adult population-based cohorts were reexamined with spirometry and structured interview. Subjects with airway obstruction, with a ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 s to (forced) vital capacity <0.70 (n=993), were identified together with sex- and age-matched referents (n=993). These subjects were further divided into subjects with pre- but not post-BD airway obstruction (pre- not post-BD obstruction) and subjects with post-BD airway obstruction (COPD). Mortality data were collected until December 31, 2014.
Results: Out of 993 subjects with airway obstruction, 736 (74%) had COPD and 257 (26%) pre- not post-BD obstruction. Any respiratory symptoms, allergic rhinitis, asthma, exacerbations, and comorbidities were equally common among subjects with COPD and pre- not post-BD obstruction, but less common among nonobstructive subjects. Mortality was highest among subjects with COPD and higher in men than in women. In both sexes, COPD, but not pre- not post-BD obstruction, was associated with an increased risk for death compared to those without airway obstruction. When COPD was divided into Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) stages, GOLD 2 and 3–4 had an increased risk for death when compared to the nonobstructive group, also when adjusted for common confounders and comorbidities such as heart disease, diabetes, and anxiety/depression.
Conclusion: Even though subjects with COPD and pre- not post-BD obstruction had fairly similar presentation of clinical characteristics, only those with COPD, specifically GOLD stage ≥2, had increased risk for death when compared with nonobstructive subjects.

Keywords: epidemiology, spirometry, chronic airflow obstructions, mortality

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