The investigators found that a statistically significant greater risk for both COPD exacerbations and hospitalizations is associated with being of older age, being a noncurrent smoker, having poorer lung function, using home oxygen, visiting the clinic or emergency department more often, either scheduled or unscheduled, being hospitalized for COPD in the prior year, using either antibiotics or systemic steroids for COPD more often in the prior year, and using short-acting beta agonist, inhaled or oral corticosteroid at a baseline rate.
On the other hand, a statistically significant greater risk of only COPD exacerbation was seen in white patients, with presence of productive cough, longer duration of COPD, use of long-acting beta agonist or theophylline at baseline, and presence of any gastrointestinal or hepatobiliary disease. Lower body-mass index and the presence of cardiovascular comorbidity were associated with statistically significant greater risk for only hospitalization due to COPD.
The investigators also confirmed the previous suggestion that chronic cough is an independent predictor of exacerbation. Interestingly, they found that any cardiovascular comorbidity is a strong and independent predictor of hospitalizations due to COPD. It is unclear if cardiovascular disease truly predisposes subjects to COPD hospitalizations or merely represents a misdiagnosis because both diseases have similar symptoms.
Current smokers were identified as having lower risk of exacerbation and hospitalization, probably due to the “healthy smoker” theory—that deteriorating lung function causes the patient to quit smoking.
This study is the first to gather information about predictors of COPD exacerbations in a prospective fashion using a clear definition of exacerbation. The authors developed a model to assess the risk of COPD exacerbations and hospitalizations due to exacerbations in patients with moderate to severe COPD. Moreover, this model can easily be applied to individual patients and reproduced with simple spirometry and a series of questions.
Though this trial had a reasonable level of statistical significance, it is important to mention that the trial was conducted within a single health system (Veterans Affairs medical centers), there were few women in the study, and the eligibility criteria were very specific.
- Mannino DM, Watt G, Hole D, et al. The natural history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Eur Respir J. 2006 Mar;27(3):627-643.
Glucose Management in Hospitalized Patients
Leahy JL. Insulin Management of diabetic patients on general medical and surgical floors. Endocr Pract. Jul/Aug 2006;12(Suppl3):86-89.
Although the rationale behind the science for tight control of blood sugar in subsets of hospitalized patient populations is without debate when it comes to the majority of general ward patients, the management of hyperglycemia becomes more of an art. Increasingly we recognize the effect of the relationship between improving glucose management and improving clinical outcomes.
Guidelines for inpatient targeted blood glucose levels exist, but hospitals are moving toward a more individualized approach to subcutaneous insulin protocols for their patients, thus moving beyond the passive sliding scale era.
Institution of an insulin protocol at one such hospital, the University of Vermont, highlights such an approach. The ongoing internal nonrandomized study exemplifies a two-tiered approach initially aimed at expanding the house physician comfort zone to change the culture of hyperglycemic management beyond simply avoiding hypoglycemia to one of an active and—per our current standards—aggressive individualized insulin protocol.
It seems the author envisions a gradual process allowing initial flexibility within the protocol, increasing the intensity of dosing as comfort zones expand. Throughout the process, the principles of determining a patient’s weight-based daily insulin needs are maintained, taking into consideration factors like comorbidities, severity of illness, amount of oral intake, steroid usage, and age. Then, the insulin regimen is physiologically (basal/bolus, basal, continuous) administered according to the route (i.e., total parenteral nutrition) and timing of their nutritional intake.