Introduction: there is little information about the relationship between age and management of COPD exacerbation (AECOPD), although older persons are known to be at a greater risk of hospital admission.
Methods: we have investigated responses from the clinical and patient questionnaire elements of the 2008 UK COPD audit, splitting the data into age decile.
Results: age ranged from 27 to 102. Patient-reported data suggested older patients had inferior knowledge of COPD, undertook less self-care and were less likely to recognise symptoms of exacerbation prior to hospitalisation. Clinician-reported data showed that although older patients had severe disease and symptoms, greater co-morbidity at presentation and higher mortality, fewer were seen in hospital or followed up subsequently by respiratory specialists. Older patients were more likely to have a DNR order signed within 24 h of admission, irrespective of co-morbidities or performance status. The observations were particularly applicable to those aged 80 or above.
Conclusions: clinicians should consider increasing age as a specific risk factor in the management of COPD. Acute units and community teams should review carefully their protocols and pathways for how they assess, manage, discharge and follow-up older patients with COPD exacerbation.