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Open Access Research

Pre- and post-bronchodilator lung function as predictors of mortality in the Lung Health Study

David M Mannino12*, Enrique Diaz-Guzman2 and Sonia Buist3

Author Affiliations

1 University of Kentucky, College of Public Health, Lexington, KY, USA

2 University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY, USA

3 Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR, USA

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Respiratory Research 2011, 12:136  doi:10.1186/1465-9921-12-136

Published: 12 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is supposed to be classified on the basis of post-bronchodilator lung function. Most longitudinal studies of COPD, though, do not have post-bronchodilator lung function available. We used pre-and post bronchodilator lung function data from the Lung Health Study to determine whether these measures differ in their ability to predict mortality.

Methods

We limited our analysis to subjects who were of black or white race, on whom we had complete data, and who participated at either the 1 year or the 5 year follow-up visit. We classified subjects based on their baseline lung function, according to COPD Classification criteria using both pre- and post-bronchodilator lung function. We conducted a survival analysis and logistic regression predicting death and controlling for age, sex, race, treatment group, smoking status, and measures of lung function (either pre- or post-bronchodilator. We calculated hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) and also calculated area under the curve for the logistic regression models.

Results

By year 15 of the study, 721 of the original 5,887 study subjects had died. In the year 1 sample survival models, a higher FEV1 % predicted lower mortality in both the pre-bronchodilator (HR 0.87, 95% CI 0.81, 0.94 per 10% increase) and post-bronchodilator (HR 0.84, 95% CI 0.77, 0.90) models. The area under the curve for the respective models was 69.2% and 69.4%. Similarly, using categories, when compared to people with "normal" lung function, subjects with Stage 3 or 4 disease had similar mortality in both the pre- (HR 1.51, 95% CI 0.75, 3.03) and post-bronchodilator (HR 1.45, 95% CI 0.41, 5.15) models. In the year 5 sample, when a larger proportion of subjects had Stage 3 or 4 disease (6.4% in the pre-bronchodilator group), mortality was significantly increased in both the pre- (HR 2.68, 95% CI 1.51, 4.75) and post-bronchodilator (HR 2.46, 95% CI 1.63, 3.73) models.

Conclusions

Both pre- and post-bronchodilator lung function predicted mortality in this analysis with a similar degree of accuracy. Post-bronchodilator lung function may not be needed in population studies that predict long-term outcomes.

Keywords:
COPD; mortality; epidemiology; bronchodilator responsiveness