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COPD. 2012 Aug;9(4):417-25. doi: 10.3109/15412555.2012.684414. Epub 2012 May 31.

Alcohol use predicts ER visits in individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) associated COPD.

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  • 1National Jewish Health, Department of Medicine, Denver, CO, United States. hothk@njhealth.org


Excessive alcohol use in COPD has been associated with increased mortality; however, little is known about alcohol use in AATD-associated COPD. A total of 538 individuals with AATD-associated COPD completed questionnaires at baseline and 330 also completed 2 years of follow-up questionnaires. Demographic and health information was collected, including information about alcohol use, ER visits for COPD, and hospitalizations for COPD. Problem alcohol use was characterized using the CAGE screening questionnaire and recent alcohol consumption. Demographic and clinical characteristics associated with problem drinking were identified using logistic regression. Problem drinking at baseline was examined as a predictor of ER visits and hospital admissions for COPD in the subsequent two years using logistic regression adjusting for demographic variables and baseline health status. 14% of the sample reported a history of problem drinking per the CAGE and 8% reported problem drinking in the past week. Problem drinking was associated with higher education and greater lifetime tobacco exposure. Recent alcohol consumption was a significant predictor of having an ER visit for COPD in the subsequent two years. Compared to individuals who reported problem drinking in the past week, individuals with no consumption (OR = 0.32, 95% CI = 0.10 to 0.97, p = .043) and individuals with low-to-moderate consumption (OR = 0.25, 95% CI = 0.08 to 0.77, p = .016) had significantly lower odds of an ER visit. Neither measure of problem drinking predicted hospital admission. Screening for recent excessive alcohol use in this population may identify individuals at risk for use of costly emergency health services.

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