Background: The poor recognition and related underdiagnosis of COPD contributes to an underestimation of mortality in subjects with COPD. Data derived from population studies can advance our understanding of the true burden of COPD. The objective of this report was to evaluate the impact of COPD on mortality and its predictors in a cohort of subjects with and without COPD recruited during the twenty first century.
Methods: All subjects with COPD (n = 993) defined according to the GOLD spirometric criteria, FEV1/FVC < 0.70, and gender- and age-matched subjects without airway obstruction, non-COPD (n = 993), were identified in a clinical follow-up survey of the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden (OLIN) Studies cohorts in 2002-2004. Mortality was observed until the end of year 2007. Baseline data from examination at recruitment were used in the risk factor analyses; age, smoking status, lung function (FEV1 % predicted) and reported heart disease.
Results: The mortality was significantly higher among subjects with COPD, 10.9%, compared to subjects without COPD, 5.8% (p < 0.001). Mortality was associated with higher age, being a current smoker, male gender, and COPD. Replacing COPD with FEV1 % predicted in the multivariate model resulted in the decreasing level of FEV1 being a significant risk factor for death, while heart disease was not a significant risk factor for death in any of the models.
Conclusions: In this cohort COPD and decreased FEV1 were significant risk factors for death when adjusted for age, gender, smoking habits and reported heart disease.