Objectives: To identify the prevalent and prognostically important coexisting illnesses among single coronary artery disease (CAD) patients.
Background: As the population ages, physicians are increasingly required to make decisions concerning patients with multiple co-existing illnesses (comorbidity). Many trials of CAD therapy have excluded patients with significant comorbidity, such that there are limited data to guide the management of those patients.
Methods: To consider the long-term prognostic importance of comorbid illness, we examined a cohort of 1471 patients with CAD who underwent cardiac catheterization between 1985 and 1989 and were followed up through 2000 in the Duke Databank for Cardiovascular Diseases. Weights were assigned to individual diseases according to their prognostic significance in Cox proportional hazards models, thus creating a new CAD-specific index. The new index was compared with the widely used Charlson index, according to prevalence of conditions, individual and overall associations with survival, and agreement.
Results: The Charlson index and the CAD-specific index were highly associated with long-term survival and almost equivalent to left ventricular ejection fraction. When considering the components of the Charlson index, diabetes, renal insufficiency, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and peripheral vascular disease had greater prognostic significance among CAD patients, whereas peptic ulcer disease, connective tissue disease, and lymphoma were less significant. Hemiplegia, leukemia, lymphoma, severe liver disease, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome were rarely identified among patients undergoing coronary angiography.
Conclusions: Comorbid disease is strongly associated with long-term survival in patients with CAD. These data suggest co-existing illnesses should be measured and considered in clinical trials, disease registries, quality comparisons, and counseling of individual patients.