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The Impact of Exacerbation Frequency on Clinical and Economic Outcomes in Swedish COPD Patients: The ARCTIC Study

Authors Larsson K, Janson C, Lisspers K, Ställberg B, Johansson G, Gutzwiller FS, Mezzi K, Bjerregaard BK, Jorgensen L

Received 17 December 2020

Accepted for publication 4 March 2021

Published 18 March 2021 Volume 2021:16 Pages 701—713


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Kjell Larsson,1 Christer Janson,2 Karin Lisspers,3 Björn Ställberg,3 Gunnar Johansson,3 Florian S Gutzwiller,4 Karen Mezzi,4 Bine Kjoeller Bjerregaard,5 Leif Jorgensen5

1Integrative Toxicology, The National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; 2Department of Medical Sciences: Respiratory, Allergy and Sleep Research, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; 3Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; 4Novartis Pharma AG, Global Patient Access, Basel, Switzerland; 5IQVIA Solutions, Real World Evidence Solutions, Copenhagen, Denmark

Correspondence: Kjell Larsson
Integrative Toxicology, The National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, SE-171 77, Sweden
Tel +467 0582 0763
Email [email protected]

Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the association between exacerbation frequency and clinical and economic outcomes in patients with COPD.
Patients and Methods: Electronic medical record data linked to National Health Registries were collected from COPD patients at 52 Swedish primary care centers (2000– 2014). The outcomes analyzed were exacerbation rate, mortality, COPD treatments, lung function and healthcare costs during the follow-up period. Based on the exacerbation rate two years before index date, the patients were initially classified into three groups, either 0, 1 or ≥ 2 exacerbations per year. After the index date, the classification into exacerbation groups was updated each year based on the exacerbation rate during the last year of follow-up. A sensitivity analysis was conducted excluding patients with asthma diagnosis from the analysis.
Results: In total 18,586 COPD patients were analyzed. A majority of the patients (60– 70%) who either have had no exacerbation or frequent exacerbations (≥ 2/year) during the pre-index period remained in their group (ie, with 0 or ≥ 2 annual exacerbations) during up to 11 years of follow-up. Compared with having no exacerbation, mortality was higher in patients having 1 (HR; 2.06 [1.93– 2.20]) and ≥ 2 (4.58 [4.33– 4.84]) exacerbations at any time during the follow-up. Lung function decline was more rapid in patients with frequent exacerbations and there was an almost linear relationship between exacerbations frequency and mortality. Total healthcare costs were higher in the frequent exacerbation group (≥ 2/year) than in patients with no or one exacerbation annually (p< 0.0001 for both). The results did not differ from the main analysis after exclusion of patients with a concurrent asthma diagnosis.
Conclusion: In addition to faster lung function decline and increased mortality, frequent exacerbations in COPD patients imply a significant economic burden.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, exacerbations, mortality, lung function, healthcare cost, Sweden

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