The aim of our study was to estimate the case fatality of a severe exacerbation from long-term survival data presented in the literature. A literature search identified studies reporting ≥1.5 yr survival after a severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation resulting in hospitalisation. The survival curve of each study was divided into a critical and a stable period. Mortality during the stable period was then estimated by extrapolating the survival curve during the stable period back to the time of exacerbation onset. Case fatality was defined as the excess mortality that results from an exacerbation and was calculated as 1 minus the (backwardly) extrapolated survival during the stable period at the time of exacerbation onset. The 95% confidence intervals (CI) of the estimated case fatalities were obtained by bootstrapping. A random effect model was used to combine all estimates into a weighted average with 95% CI. The meta-analysis based on six studies that fulfilled the inclusion criteria resulted in a weighted average case-fatality rate of 15.6% (95% CI 10.9-20.3), ranging from 11.4% to 19.0% for the individual studies. A severe COPD exacerbation requiring hospitalisation not only results in higher mortality risks during hospitalisation, but also in the time-period after discharge and contributes substantially to total COPD mortality. Copyright

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The European Respiratory Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam