Pulmonary function is a long-term predictor of mortality in the general population: 29-year follow-up of the Buffalo Health Study

Chest. 2000 Sep;118(3):656-64. doi: 10.1378/chest.118.3.656.


Study objectives: Results from several studies have described a relationship between pulmonary function and both all-cause and cause-specific mortality. The purpose of this study was to investigate the predictive value of pulmonary function by gender after 29 years of follow-up.

Design: Prospective study with 29-year follow-up of the Buffalo Health Study cohort.

Participants: Randomly selected sample of 554 men and 641 women, aged 20 to 89 years, from all listed households of the city of Buffalo, NY.

Measurements and results: Baseline measurements were performed in 1960 to 1961. Pulmonary function was assessed based on FEV(1) expressed as the normal percent predicted (FEV(1)%pred). FEV(1)%pred adjusted by age, body mass index, systolic BP, education, and smoking status was inversely related to all-cause mortality in both men and women (p<0.01). A sequential survival analysis in participants who had a survival time of at least 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years after enrollment in the study was also performed. Except for men who survived for > 25 years, we observed a statistically significant negative association between FEV(1)%pred and all-cause mortality. FEV(1)%pred was also inversely related to ischemic heart disease (IHD) mortality. When participants were divided into quintiles of FEV(1)%pred, participants in the lowest quintile of FEV(1)%pred experienced significantly higher all-cause mortality compared with participants in the highest quintile of FEV(1)%pred. For the entire follow-up period, the adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality were 2.24 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.60 to 3.13) for men and 1. 81 (95% CI, 1.24 to 2.63) for women, respectively. Hazard ratios for death from IHD in the lowest quintile of FEV(1)%pred were 2.11 (95% CI, 1.20 to 3.71) and 1.96 (95% CI, 0.99 to 3.88) for men and women, respectively.

Conclusions: These results suggest that pulmonary function is a long-term predictor for overall survival rates in both genders and could be used as a tool in general health assessment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Ischemia / mortality*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / physiopathology
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Function Tests*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survival Rate / trends