New data indicates that COPD patients who also have asthma are at an increased risk for severe exacerbations.

The researchers believe that exacerbation prevention strategies could be helpful for those patients. The study was conducted by Hyun Lee, MD of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients who also have asthma are at a greater Medicine at Samsung Medical Center at Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, Korea and colleagues. It was published in the International Journal of COPD on April 15, 2016.

The researchers used data from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES), and compared it to the national health insurance reimbursement database in order to examine the prevalence of severe exacerbations among patients with mild-to-moderate COPD, and to investigate the relationship between exacerbations and coexisting asthma.

“We obtained information such as age, sex, body mass index (BMI), smoking history, physical activity, the EuroQL five dimensions questionnaire (EQ-5D) index values, which range between 0 (worst imaginable health state) and 1 (best imaginable health state), and pulmonary function test results from the KNHANES database,” said the researchers. There were a total of 2,397 patients included in this population-based study, which examined the years between 2007 and 2012.

The vast majority of patients, 95.4% or 2,286, had no history of a severe exacerbation. Only 4.6% had experienced a one or more severe exacerbations during the 6-year study period. The patients who did have severe exacerbations were, according to the researchers, “likley to be older, female, nonsmokers, and more likely to have fewer days of high active physical activity per week.” They also had poorer lung function, used inhalers more frequently, and were more likely to have bronchial asthma.

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