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Causes of death shifting in patients diagnosed with COPD
Date:1/20/2011

Patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who are on long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) have more to worry about than breathing difficulties. According to a new study by researchers in Sweden, COPD patients on LTOT today face an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and other non-respiratory ailments. The study's results suggest physicians need to carefully monitor for these conditions and treat them to help decrease the risk of mortality in these patients.

The findings were published online ahead of the print edition of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"In recent decades the demography of patients starting LTOT for COPD has changed markedly," said Magnus P. Ekstrm, MD, respiratory medicine physician and researcher, Blekinge Hospital, Karlskrona, Sweden. "In Sweden, the mean age of patients starting LTOT increased from approximately 66 to 73 years between 1987 and 2000. There has also been a significant increase in the proportion of women receiving LTOT for COPD; in fact, the majority of patients starting LTOT are now women."

"In this study, we wanted to determine if these changes had resulted in a shift in the causes of death for COPD patients with long-term oxygen therapy," he said.

The researchers enrolled 7,628 adult patients who started LTOT for COPD between January 1987 and December 2004. Patients remained in the study until LTOT was suspended or until death. Study participants were followed for a median of 1.7 years; 5,497 patients died during the course of the study. The underlying causes of death were obtained from the Swedish Causes of Death Register.

The researchers found that while the risk of death decreased annually for both respiratory disease (2.7 percent) and lung cancer (3.4 percent), there were annual increased risks of circulatory disease (2.8 percent) and digestive organ disease (7.8 percent).
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Contact: Brian Kell
bkell@thoracic.org
212-315-6442
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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