Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

AIM: To investigate whether there is a significant relationship between an increased frequency of exacerbations and the rate of forced expiratory volume in 1s (FEV(1)) decline in COPD patients. METHODS-MEASUREMENTS: About 102 COPD patients (44 smokers, 58 ex-smokers) participated in a 3-year prospective study. Exacerbations were identified as worsening of patient's respiratory symptoms as recorded on diary cards. Spirometry was performed every 6 months. The effect of frequent exacerbations on lung function was investigated using random effects models. RESULTS: The median (mean(95% CI)) annual exacerbation rate was 2.85 (3.1 (2.7-3.6)). Patients with an annual exacerbation rate over the median rate had significantly lower baseline post-bronchodilation FEV(1)(%pred), higher MRC dyspnoea score and chronic cough compared to patients who had an annual exacerbation rate less than the median. The average annual rate of FEV(1)(%pred), adjusted for smoking decline (DeltaFEV(1)), was found significantly increased in frequent compared to infrequent exacerbators (P=0.017). The highest DeltaFEV(1) was observed in smokers frequent exacerbators and a significant interaction between exacerbation frequency and DeltaFEV(1) was also observed in ex-smokers. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that an increased frequency of exacerbations is significantly associated with FEV(1) decline even in ex-smokers. Thus, smoking and frequent exacerbations may have both negative impact on lung function. Smoking cessation and prevention of exacerbations should be a major target in COPD.

Original publication




Journal article


Respir med

Publication Date





1305 - 1312


Aged, Chronic Disease, Cough, Disease Progression, Dyspnea, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Forced Expiratory Volume, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive, Severity of Illness Index, Smoking, Smoking Cessation, Spirometry