Background: This study describes the characteristics of a large sample of patients hospitalised for the first time for a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation.
Methods: All subjects first admitted for a COPD exacerbation to nine teaching Spanish hospitals during January 2004-March 2006, were eligible. COPD diagnosis was confirmed by spirometry under stability. At admission, sociodemographic data, lifestyle, previous treatment and diagnosis of respiratory disease, lung function and Charlson index of co-morbidity were collected. A comprehensive assessment, including dyspnea, lung function, six-minute walking test, and St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), was completed 3 months after admission, during a clinically stable disease period.
Results: Three-hundred and forty-two patients (57% of the eligible) participated in the study: 93% males, mean (SD) age 68 (9) years, 42% current smokers, 50% two or more co-morbidities, 54% mild-to-moderate dyspnea, post-bronchodilator FEV(1) 52 (16)% of predicted (54% mild-to-moderate COPD in ATS/ERS stages), 6-min walking distance 440 m, total SGRQ score 37 (18), and 36% not report respiratory disease. The absence of a previous COPD diagnosis, positive bronchodilator test, female gender, older age, higher DLco and higher BMI were independently associated with less severe COPD.
Conclusions: We show that the patients admitted after presenting with their first COPD exacerbation have a wide range of severity, with a large proportion of patients in the less advanced COPD stages.