Background: Treatment of chronic diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is complicated by the presence of comorbidities. The objective of this analysis was to estimate the prevalence of comorbidity in COPD using nationally-representative data.
Methods: This study draws from a multi-year analytic sample of 14,828 subjects aged 45+, including 995 with COPD, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2008. COPD was defined by self-reported physician diagnosis of chronic bronchitis or emphysema; patients who reported a diagnosis of asthma were excluded. Using population weights, we estimated the age-and-gender-stratified prevalence of 22 comorbid conditions that may influence COPD and its treatment.
Results: Subjects 45+ with physician-diagnosed COPD were more likely than subjects without physician-diagnosed COPD to have coexisting arthritis (54.6% vs. 36.9%), depression (20.6% vs. 12.5%), osteoporosis (16.9% vs. 8.5%), cancer (16.5% vs. 9.9%), coronary heart disease (12.7% vs. 6.1%), congestive heart failure (12.1% vs. 3.9%), and stroke (8.9% vs. 4.6%). Subjects with COPD were also more likely to report mobility difficulty (55.6% vs. 32.5%), use of >4 prescription medications (51.8% vs. 32.1), dizziness/balance problems (41.1% vs. 23.8%), urinary incontinence (34.9% vs. 27.3%), memory problems (18.5% vs. 8.8%), low glomerular filtration rate (16.2% vs. 10.5%), and visual impairment (14.0% vs. 9.6%). All reported comparisons have p < 0.05.
Conclusions: Our study indicates that COPD management may need to take into account a complex spectrum of comorbidities. This work identifies which conditions are most common in a nationally-representative set of COPD patients (physician-diagnosed), a necessary step for setting research priorities and developing clinical practice guidelines that address COPD within the context of comorbidity.