Characteristics of adults dying with COPD

Chest. 2002 Dec;122(6):2003-8. doi: 10.1378/chest.122.6.2003.


Study objective: To describe factors associated with COPD deaths in the United States.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Participants: A total of 12,803 decedents in the National Mortality Followback Survey, a nationally representative sample of US deaths in 1993.

Methods: We compared the characteristics of adults > or = 35 years of age who died with COPD (bronchitis, emphysema, chronic airway obstruction) with those dying without COPD listed on their death certificates.

Results: Of the estimated 225,400 adults who died with COPD in 1993, 16.7% had never smoked. People dying with COPD were more likely than those dying without COPD to be current smokers (odds ratio [OR], 6.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.3 to 9.9) or former smokers (OR, 3.7; 95% CI, 2.5 to 5.3), have a history of asthma (OR, 5.0; 95% CI, 3.2 to 7.8), be underweight (OR, 4.5; 95% CI, 2.8 to 7.2), and be of the white race (OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 2.4 to 4.0), after controlling for age group and sex.

Conclusions: A significant proportion of COPD-related deaths occurs in never-smokers. Factors such as a history of asthma and being underweight are associated with COPD mortality and may provide additional opportunities for intervention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asthma / complications
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Whites