Prediction and course of symptoms and lung function around an exacerbation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

M. van den Berge*, W.C.J. Hop, T. van der Molen, J.A. van Noord, J.P.H.M. Creemers, A.J.M. Schreurs, E.F.M. Wouters, D.S. Postma, study group the COSMIC (COPD and Seretide: a Multi-Center Intervention and Characterization)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Frequent exacerbations induce a high burden to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). We investigated the course of exacerbations in the published COSMIC study that investigated the effects of 1-year withdrawal of fluticasone after a 3-month run-in treatment period with salmeterol/fluticasone in patients with COPD. METHODS: In 373 patients, we evaluated diary cards for symptoms, Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF), and salbutamol use and assessed their course during exacerbations. RESULTS: There were 492 exacerbations in 224 patients. The level of symptoms of cough, sputum, dyspnea and nocturnal awakening steadily increased from 2 weeks prior to exacerbation, with a sharp rise during the last week. Symptoms of cough, sputum, and dyspnea reverted to baseline values at different rates (after 4, 4, and 7 weeks respectively), whereas symptoms of nocturnal awakening were still increased after eight weeks. The course of symptoms was similar around a first and second exacerbation. Increases in symptoms and salbutamol use and decreases in PEF were associated with a higher risk to develop an exacerbation, but with moderate predictive values, the areas under the receiver operating curves ranging from 0.63 to 0.70. CONCLUSIONS: Exacerbations of COPD are associated with increased symptoms that persist for weeks and the course is very similar between a first and second exacerbation. COPD exacerbations are preceded by increased symptoms and salbutamol use and lower PEF, yet predictive values are too low to warrant daily use in clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalRespiratory Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


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