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Smoking cessation can improve survival among patients with severe COPD

Patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who stop smoking may be able to improve their rate of survival, despite the severity of their lung disease. A new study in the November issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), showed that patients with severe, early-onset COPD who continued to smoke had a risk of mortality that was almost three times that of patients who stopped smoking. The study also reported that greater smoking intensity increased the risk of mortality among COPD patients, with patients who had the greatest smoking intensity having the highest risk of mortality.

"Lifetime smoking intensity and current smoking status independently increased mortality in our patients with severe COPD," said Craig P. Hersh, MD, Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. "However, patients who continued smoking significantly reduced their survival rate, which confirms the importance of smoking cessation even in patients with the most advanced stages of lung disease."

Dr. Hersh and colleagues utilized data from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study to determine the natural history of severe, early onset COPD and the survival rates of patients under age 53 during a follow-up period of 2 months to 8 years. Of the 139 patients (72.7 percent women) studied, 37 patients died within the study period, with the majority of deaths due to cardiorespiratory illness. Overall survival rates were 85 percent at 3 years and 72 percent at 5 years. Patients who smoked during the study period had a risk of mortality that was almost three times that of patients who stopped smoking. In addition, greater smoking intensity was associated with decreased survival, and the risk of mortality increased by 20 percent for each 10 pack-years of smoking.

"As age increases, so does the risk of mortality in patients with COPD," added Dr. Hersh. "Yet, the rela
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Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
jstawarz@chestnet.org
847-498-8306
American College of Chest Physicians
8-Nov-2004


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