The many faces of COPD in real life: a longitudinal analysis of the NOVELTY cohort

The diagnosis of COPD requires the demonstration of non-fully reversible airflow limitation by spirometry in the appropriate clinical context.

Yet, there are patients with symptoms and relevant exposures suggestive of COPD with either normal spirometry (pre-COPD) or preserved ratio but impaired spirometry (PRISm).

Their prevalence, clinical characteristics and associated outcomes in a real-life setting are unclear.

To investigate them, we studied 3183 patients diagnosed with COPD by their attending physician included in the NOVELTY study ( identifier NCT02760329), a global, 3-year, observational, real-life cohort that included patients recruited from both primary and specialist care clinics in 18 countries.

We found that:

  1. Approximately a quarter of patients diagnosed with (and treated for) COPD in real life did not fulfil the spirometric diagnostic criteria recommended by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), and could be instead categorised as pre-COPD (13%) or PRISm (14%);
  2. Disease burden (symptoms and exacerbations) was highest in GOLD 3-4 patients (exacerbations per person-year (PPY) 0.82) and lower but similar in those in GOLD 1-2, pre-COPD and PRISm (exacerbations range 0.27-0.43 PPY);
  3. Lung function decline was highest in pre-COPD and GOLD 1-2, and much less pronounced in PRISm and GOLD 3-4;
  4. PRISm and pre-COPD were not stable diagnostic categories and change substantially over time; and
  5. All-cause mortality was highest in GOLD 3-4, lowest in pre-COPD, and intermediate and similar in GOLD 1-2 and PRISm.

Patients diagnosed COPD in a real-life clinical setting present great diversity in symptom burden, progression and survival, warranting medical attention.

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Autores: Alvar Agustí, Rod Hughes, Eleni Rapsomaki, Barry Make, Ricardo Del Olmo, Alberto Papi, David Price, Laura Benton, Stefan Franzen, Jørgen Vestbo, Hana Mullerova

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