In a study described by MedPage Today, only 2% of patients with COPD had several annual exacerbations.

Among patients who had any acute exacerbation during the 3 years of follow-up, very few had two or more annual exacerbation events, the team found, explaining that frequent exacerbations are associated with poor quality of life and more rapid decline in lung function. Widely reported results published in 2010 from the ECLIPSE COPD trialsuggested that a distinct frequent exacerbator phenotype exists in COPD that may be independent of disease severity.

The ECLIPSE investigators suggested that patients with two or more exacerbations in a given year characterize this distinct frequent exacerbator phenotype.

In an interview with MedPage Today, Han said the newly published analysis was conducted to better understand the prevalence of the frequent exacerbator phenotype in COPD and identify characteristics of patients with frequent exacerbations over consecutive years. The longitudinal, prospective analysis included 2,981 patients with and without COPD enrolled in the Subpopulations and Intermediate Outcome Measures in COPD study (SPIROMICS) between November 2010 and the end of July 2015 who had been followed for at least 3 years at the time of the analysis.