Background: It is not known why survival differs between men and women in oxygen-dependent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The present study evaluates differences in comorbidity between men and women, and tests the hypothesis that comorbidity contributes to sex-related differences in mortality in oxygen-dependent COPD.
Methods: National prospective study of patients aged 50 years or older, starting long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) for COPD in Sweden between 1992 and 2008. Comorbidities were obtained from the Swedish Hospital Discharge Register. Sex-related differences in comorbidity were estimated using logistic regression, adjusting for age, smoking status and year of inclusion. The effect of comorbidity on overall mortality and the interaction between comorbidity and sex were evaluated using Cox regression, adjusting for age, sex, Pa(O2) breathing air, FEV(1), smoking history and year of inclusion.
Results: In total, 8,712 patients (55% women) were included and 6,729 patients died during the study period. No patient was lost to follow-up. Compared with women, men had significantly more arrhythmia, cancer, ischemic heart disease and renal failure, and less hypertension, mental disorders, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis (P<0.05 for all odds ratios). Comorbidity was an independent predictor of mortality, and the effect was similar for the sexes. Women had lower mortality, which remained unchanged even after adjusting for comorbidity; hazard ratio 0.73 (95% confidence interval, 0.68-0.77; P<0.001).
Conclusions: Comorbidity is different in men and women, but does not explain the sex-related difference in mortality in oxygen-dependent COPD.