New research warns health professionals that patients with COPD are more likely to die from bronchiectasis.
The condition which sees the airways in the lungs become permanently dilated is often seen in patients suffering from COPD and makes the impairment of lung function more severe, as well as increasing the risk of the bronchial mucosa becoming colonised by bacteria.
Miguel Ángel Martínez-García, from La Fe University and Polytechnic Hospital in Valencia, Spain, who led the research, said the team found that if patients had moderate to severe COPD and bronchiectasis they were more likely to die from any cause, regardless of what their other risk factors were.
The risk of mortality depended on how serious the bronchiectasis was, according to the report which have been published online and will appear in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The researchers studied 201 people suffering from moderate to severe COPD - classified according to Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) criteria. Out of the patients participating in the study, 115 had bronchiectasis, which had been diagnosed by a CT scan of their chest, while the remaining 86 did not.
The progress of the patients was followed for an average of four years and during this period 51 of the participants died. More than 84% of these deaths were from the group with bronchiectasis, which saw 43 patients pass away.
But the authors warned that there were some limitations to the study. It had not been possible to accurately measure the exact size of the bacterial load in sputum samples and the analysis did not include some variables which have been shown to predict the risk of mortality among patients with COPD.