Prevalence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Tobacco Use in Veterans at Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Thompson, William H.; St-Hilaire, Sophie
May 2010
Respiratory Care;May2010, Vol. 55 Issue 5, p555
Academic Journal
BACKGROUND: Although its prevalence is still debated, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, and smoking cessation remains the only intervention that can significantly improve the prognosis of COPD. METHODS: To determine the prevalence of COPD in a typical population seeking care at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center; the impact of smoking, age, and sex on the prevalence of COPD in this population; and how often spirometry is done in patients at risk for COPD, we extracted data from the Veterans Integrated Service Network 20 Consumer Health Information and Performance Sets database, on patients seen at the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center between January 1, 1999, and May 30, 2006. RESULTS: Approximately 8.8% (2,556/28,983) of all patients and 14.1% (1,152/8,149) of smokers were reported to have COPD. The odds of COPD in smokers, after adjusting for age and sex, was 3.18 (95% confidence interval 2.88-3.50) times greater than in nonsmokers. Males were 1.48 times more likely to have COPD than females, and there was an increasing risk of COPD with age. Thirty-nine percent of all veterans and 54% of those with COPD were active smokers. 273 (60%) of the 455 symptomatic smokers without a prior diagnosis of COPD were not evaluated with spirometry. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of COPD in patients at the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center was consistent with that in other United States surveys, although the underutilization of screening spirometry in those at risk for COPD may have caused underestimation of the prevalence. Smoking, age, and male sex were identified as significant risk factors for COPD, and the prevalence of active smoking remains high in this population of veterans.


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