Weak Handgrip at Index Admission for Acute Exacerbation of COPD Predicts All-Cause 30-Day Readmission

Front Med (Lausanne). 2021 Apr 7:8:611989. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.611989. eCollection 2021.


Rationale: Identifying patients hospitalized for acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD) who are at high risk for readmission is challenging. Traditional markers of disease severity such as pulmonary function have limited utility in predicting readmission. Handgrip strength, a component of the physical frailty phenotype, may be a simple tool to help predict readmission. Objective(s): To investigate if handgrip strength, a component of the physical frailty phenotype and surrogate for weakness, is a predictive biomarker of COPD readmission. Methods: This was a prospective, observational study of patients admitted to the inpatient general medicine unit at the University of Chicago Medicine, US. This study evaluated age, sex, ethnicity, degree of obstructive lung disease by spirometry (FEV1 percent predicted), and physical frailty phenotype (components include handgrip strength and walk speed). The primary outcome was all-cause hospital readmission within 30 days of discharge. Results: Of 381 eligible patients with AECOPD, 70 participants agreed to consent to participate in this study. Twelve participants (17%) were readmitted within 30 days of discharge. Weak grip at index hospitalization, defined as grip strength lower than previously established cut-points for sex and body mass index (BMI), was predictive of readmission (OR 11.2, 95% CI 1.3, 93.2, p = 0.03). Degree of airway obstruction (FEV1 percent predicted) did not predict readmission (OR 1.0, 95% CI 0.95, 1.1, p = 0.7). No non-frail patients were readmitted. Conclusions: At a single academic center weak grip strength was associated with increased 30-day readmission. Future studies should investigate whether geriatric measures can help risk-stratify patients for likelihood of readmission after admission for AECOPD.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; frailty; grip strength; hand strength; patient readmission.