Bronchiectasis is a common condition experienced by people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that involves the widening of the bronchi, which are the main airways to the lungs. COPD refers to a group of conditions that block air flow and make breathing difficult. New research suggests that patients with COPD who are also diagnosed with bronchiectasis experience worse clinical outcomes.
According to the American Lung Association, COPD is the third most frequent cause of death in America, accounting for 134,676 deaths in 2010. In 2011, about 12.7 million U.S. adults aged 18 and over were reported to have COPD. Worldwide, COPD is the most common respiratory disease, with a COPD International Patient Survey conducted in 12 countries revealing that COPD prevalence is similar across a broad spectrum of countries studied and is also on the rise compared to a decade ago.
Adding to this body of evidence, a recent study that took place in China focused on whether or not having bronchiectasis actually makes COPD worse. Entitled “the existence of bronchiectasis predicts worse prognosis in patients with COPD,” the research appeared June 16th in the journal Scientific Reports.
Led by Bei Mao of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine at Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital, the purpose of this study was to see how the co-occurence of bronchiectasis in patients with COPD in China helped predict clinical outcomes, and if those outcomes were worse than those of patients with COPD alone. Researchers analyzed already collected medical information taken from patients diagnosed with COPD at the Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital between January 2009 and December 2013.
A total of 896 patients with COPD were included in the study. The scientists found that 311 of those patients presented with bronchiectasis, and of the 75 who died during the study, 39 had bronchiectasis. Statistically, having bronchiectasis was found to have increased the chances of dying in patients with COPD. In their report, the investigators concluded that “bronchiectasis was an independent risk factor for all-cause mortality in patients with COPD.”
Based on the increased risk and more severe illness associated with having COPD and bronchiectasis, the researchers noted that patients with both conditions should be monitored carefully. This study helps to identify risk factors and predictors for more severe illness for people with COPD.
The researchers also were able to identify several factors that can be used to diagnose bronchiectasis, noting “Our results suggest that the duration of symptoms, the production of purulent sputum, the length of hospitalization and the isolation of PA from sputum samples were associated with the presence of bronchiectasis in patients with COPD.”
These factors may be used to identify risk in people with COPD, and to aid in the diagnosis of bronchiectasis. Ideally, findings of the research may be used to improve the clinical treatment of people suffering from COPD.