COPD and smoking associated with higher mortality due to Coronavirus

Current smokers and persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have more risk of severe complications and higher mortality with COVID-19 infection, based on study published on May 11, 2020 within the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jaber Alqahtani of University College London, UK, and his colleagues.

COPD could be a common, persistent dysfunction of the lung affiliated with a limitation in airflow. An estimated 251 million people globally are impacted due to COPD. Given the results of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus on respiratory function, the authors of current study sought to know the prevalence and therefore the effects of COPD in COVID-19 patients.

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In the new study, researchers systematically searched databases of scientific literature to seek out existing publications on the epidemiological, clinical characteristics and features of COVID-19 and therefore the generality of COPD in patients diagnosed with COVID-19. 123 potentially relevant papers were narrowed to fifteen that met all quality and inclusion guidelines. The included studies had a number of 2473 confirmed patients with COVID-19. 58 (2.3%) of these patients also had COPD while 221 (9%) were smokers.

Critically ill COVID-19 patients with COPD had a 63% risk of severe disease and a 60% risk of mortality while critically ill patients without COPD had only a 33.4% risk of severe disease (RR 1.88, 95% CI 1.4-2.4) and 55% risk of mortality (RR 1.1, 95% CI 0.6-1.8).


Additionally, current smokers were 1.45 times more likely to have severe complications compared to former and never smokers (95% CI 1.03-2.04). The study failed to examine if there was an association between the frequency of COPD exacerbations, or severity of COPD, with COVID-19 outcomes or complications. The results are limited by the very fact that few studies were available to review, also because the diverse locations, settings, and designs of the included studies.

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