In-Hospital COPD Deaths Plummet by 62% Between 2005 and 2014

Author: Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor

Between 2005 and 2014, there was a dramatic dip in the number of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who died in the hospital, according to new data presented at the 2017 American Thoracic Society International Conference.
The investigators analyzed the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database that contains 95% of all hospital discharges in the United States.
The results of the study showed that during this period, there were 8,575,820 hospitalizations for COPD-related health issues. Of these hospitalizations, the number of patients who died in the hospital decreased from 24,226 to 9090––a 62% decrease.
“This is certainly an encouraging trend,” said lead author Khushboo Goel, MD. “We expected to see a decline because of improvements in caring for conditions such as pneumonia, sepsis, septic shock, and thromboembolic diseases associated with COPD exacerbations, but the magnitude of the decline in mortality was surprising.”
This trend was found to be true among White, Black, and Hispanic patients, the authors noted.
Most notably, the investigators found that women accounted for most of the hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths each year, making up 58% of the hospitalizations and 51% to 55% of in-hospital deaths.
“Our studies suggest possible explanations for the higher COPD burden women in the US have,” Dr Goel said. “Including the growing number of women who smoke, the increased severity of symptoms they may experience, and longer life expectancy.”
Additional findings included: the average age of patients hospitalized remained nearly constant at 67 years of age; the number of COPD patients treated at teaching hospitals increased from 212,346 to 371,215; and the average length of a hospital stay decreased from 5.2 days to 4.2 days.
COPD was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2014, according to the CDC. Tobacco smoke is a key factor to the disease’s development and progression, although exposure to air pollutants, genetic factors, and respiratory infections also play a role.
Indoor air quality is believed to play a larger role in the development and progression of CODP in the developing world compared with the United States, the CDC reported.