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COPD. 2004;1(2):225-47.

Factors associated with outcomes of acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Department of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore.


The purpose of this article is to provide a general review of the current literature on the factors associated with the outcomes of hospitalizations, survival and health-related quality of life in acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD), highlighting the limitations and the complexities in interpretation of the results of current studies. There is no consensus definition for AECOPD; onsets may be difficult to define and the determination of duration elusive. The prevalence of acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD) in the community appears to be underestimated as exacerbations are underreported by patients and their doctors. Hospitalization for COPD is due mainly to severe AECOPDs which drive the cost of care. There are few longitudinal epidemiological studies on factors associated with hospitalizations for AECOPD. The results of current studies do not allow clear differentiation between associations that are predictors of event, the consequences of the event, or indicators of severity. Strategies to reduce severe exacerbations of COPD include pharmacological treatment, vaccinations, pulmonary rehabilitation, and home care programs. The optimal strategy for the reduction of hospitalization in COPD remains unclear. Long-term interventional studies are needed to provide clearer information for the prevention of exacerbations and hospitalizations in COPD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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