Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Does mild COPD affect prognosis in the elderly?

Claudio Pedone12*, Simone Scarlata12, Claudio Sorino3, Francesco Forastiere4, Vincenzo Bellia3 and Raffaele Antonelli Incalzi15

Author affiliations

1 Centro per la Salute dell'Anziano, Area di Geriatria. Università Campus Biomedico, Roma, Italy

2 Fondazione Alberto Sordi, Roma, Italy

3 Dipartimento di Medicina, Pneumologia, Fisiologia e Nutrizione Umana. Università di Palermo, Palermo, Italy

4 Dipartimento di Epidemiologia, ASL RM-E. Roma, Italy

5 Fondazione San Raffaele - Cittadella della Carità. Taranto, Italy

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Citation and License

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2010, 10:35  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-10-35

Published: 7 June 2010



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects independence and survival in the general population, but it is unknown to which extent this conclusion applies to elderly people with mild disease. The aim of this study was to verify whether mild COPD, defined according to different classification systems (ATS/ERS, BTS, GOLD) impacts independence and survival in elderly (aged 65 to 74 years) or very elderly (aged 75 years or older) patients.


We used data coming from the Respiratory Health in the Elderly (Salute Respiratoria nell'Anziano, SaRA) study and compared the differences between the classification systems with regards to personal capabilities and 5-years survival, focusing on the mild stage of COPD.


We analyzed data from 1,159 patients (49% women) with a mean age of 73.2 years (SD: 6.1). One third of participants were 75 years or older. Mild COPD, whichever was its definition, was not associated with worse personal capabilities or increased mortality after adjustment for potential confounders in both age groups.


Mild COPD may not affect survival or personal independence of patients over 65 years of age if the reference group consists of patients with a comparable burden of non respiratory diseases. Comorbidity and age itself likely are main determinants of both outcomes.