Rationale: Biomass exposure is an important risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the time-course behavior of FEV1 in subjects exposed to biomass is unknown.
Objectives: We undertook this study to determine the FEV1 rate decline in subjects exposed to biomass.
Methods: Pulmonary function was assessed every year in a Mexican cohort of patients with COPD associated with biomass or tobacco during a 15-year follow-up period.
Measurements and main results: The mean rate of decline was significantly lower for the biomass exposure COPD group (BE-COPD) than for the tobacco smoke COPD group (TS-COPD) (23 vs. 42 ml, respectively; P < 0.01). Of the TS-COPD group, 11% were rapid decliners, whereas only one rapid decliner was found in the BE-COPD group; 69 and 21% of smokers versus 17 and 83% of the BE-COPD group were slow decliners and sustainers, respectively. A higher FEV1 both as % predicted and milliliters was a predictive factor for decline for BE-COPD and TS-COPD, whereas reversibility to bronchodilator was a predictive factor for both groups when adjusted by FEV1% predicted and only for the TS-COPD group when adjusted by milliliters.
Conclusions: In the biomass exposure COPD group the rate of FEV1 decline is slower and shows a more homogeneous rate of decline over time in comparison with smokers. The rapid rate of FEV1 decline is a rare feature of biomass-induced airflow limitation.
Keywords: biomass exposure; lung function decline; phenotypes.