Prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pattern of comorbidities in a general population

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2007;2(4):567-74.


Background: Nowadays, there is increasing awareness about the frequent chronic comorbidities in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but little information is available to quantify the burden of illness that these conditions cause in this population. We aimed to identify and describe a population suffering from COPD highlighting the co-morbid conditions that may contribute to poor clinical outcomes.

Design: Epidemiological cross-sectional study conducted using administrative heath services databases.

Results: A cohort of 126,283 COPD patients was identified. The estimated prevalence in adult population was 3.6%. Ninety-eight percent of these patients (123,603) received at least one prescription of "non-respiratory drugs" and, considering chronic specific comorbidities (cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression) 86,351 patients (68.4% of COPD patients) suffered from at least one of these conditions. 80,840 pts (64.4%) were treated for cardiovascular diseases, 17,091 subjects for diabetes (12.4%) and 10,292 for depression (8%). About 16% of COPD subjects (19,168 patients) had two out of the three considered comorbid conditions and 1352 patients (1.1%) all three.

Conclusion: This study highlights the complex spectrum of comorbidities in COPD patients. The prevalence of main chronic diseases increases with age, in particular among female group. An enhanced public awareness about these conditions is necessary, just as a more comprehensive approach in their management.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*