Predicting early mortality in acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease using the CURB65 score

Respirology. 2011 Jan;16(1):146-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1843.2010.01866.x.


Background and objective: Hospitalization for exacerbation of COPD is associated with a high risk of mortality. A risk-prediction model using information easily obtained on admission could help to identify high-risk individuals. The CURB65 score was developed to predict mortality risk in community acquired pneumonia. A retrospective study found that this score was also associated with mortality in COPD exacerbations. We conducted a prospective study to assess the utility of the CURB65 score in acute COPD exacerbations.

Methods: Consecutive patients with physician diagnosed COPD exacerbations admitted to a public hospital during a 1-year period were studied prospectively. The CURB65 scores were calculated from information obtained at initial hospital presentation. CURB65 = one point each for Confusion, Urea > 7 mmol/L, Respiratory rate ≥ 30/min, low Blood pressure, age ≥ 65 years.

Results: 30-day mortality data were available for 249 of 252 patients. CURB65 scores on admission significantly predicted risk of death during the hospital admission and at 30 days. The 30-day mortality by score groups were: low risk (scores 0-1) 2.0% (2/98), moderate risk (score 2) 6.7% (6/90) and high risk (scores 3-5) 21.3% (13/61). CURB65 scores were not predictive of 1-year mortality.

Conclusions: A simple 6-point score based on confusion, blood urea, respiratory rate, blood pressure and age can be used to stratify patients with COPD exacerbation into different management groups. The CURB65 score was as effective in predicting early mortality in our cohort of acute COPD exacerbations as it was in previous cohorts with community acquired pneumonia. Our findings suggest that CURB65 scores can help clinicians to assess patients with exacerbation of COPD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Blood Pressure
  • Confusion / epidemiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Urea / blood


  • Urea