Background: The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) severity stage classifies Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) into groups based on symptoms, exacerbations and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1). This allows patients to change to less severe COPD stages, a novel aspect of assessment not previously evaluated. We aimed to investigate the association between temporal changes in GOLD severity stage and outcomes in COPD patients.
Methods: This was a record-linkage study using patients registered with a Scottish regional COPD network 2000-2015. Annual spirometry & symptoms were recorded and linked to healthcare records to identify exacerbations, hospitalisations and mortality. Spirometry, modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) dyspnoea scale and acute exacerbations over the previous year were used to assign GOLD severity at each visit. A time-dependent Cox model was used to model time to death. Secondary outcomes were respiratory specific mortality and hospitalisations. Effect sizes are expressed as Hazard Ratios HR (95%CI).
Results: Four thousand, eight hundred and eighty-five patients (mean age 67.3 years; 51.3% female) with 21,348 visits were included. During a median 6.6 years follow-up there were 1530 deaths. For the secondary outcomes there were 712 respiratory deaths and 1629 first hospitalisations. Across 16,463 visit-pairs, improvement in COPD severity was seen in 2308 (14%), no change in 11,010 (66.9%) and worsening in 3145 (19.1). Compared to patients staying in GOLD stage A, those worsening had a stepwise increased mortality and hospitalisations.
Conclusions: Improving COPD severity classification was associated with reduced mortality and worsening COPD severity was associated with increased mortality and hospitalisations. Change in GOLD group has potential as monitoring tool and outcome measure in clinical trials.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Global initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease (GOLD)