Arthritis Associated With Increased COPD Prevalence

July 25, 2019

The prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was nearly 50% higher among patients with arthritis compared with those without arthritis, even after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, risk behaviors, frequent distress, and asthma status.

Study results are confirming previous research indicating that arthritis is associated with a higher prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among people living in the United States.

The prevalence of COPD was nearly 50% higher among patients with arthritis compared with those without arthritis, even after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, risk behaviors, frequent distress, and asthma status. These findings were published in Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the CDC.

The 2 conditions come with many of the same risk factors, including sex, age, lower socioeconomic status, tobacco use, and obesity, and most prior research has focused on determining the relationship between COPD and arthritis by controlling for these common factors. However, this research has not touched on the relationship among subgroups with or without the risk factors.

Taking these into account, the study found that the age-adjusted prevalence of COPD was higher among those with arthritis in most racial and ethnic groups. And while the prevalence of COPD was low in certain subgroups, including in younger adults, college graduates, and those who never smoked, those with arthritis in these subgroups were still significantly more likely to report COPD compared with those without.

For example, among adults aged 18 to 44 years, the age-adjusted prevalence of COPD was more than 5 times greater among those with arthritis (11.5% vs 2.0%). Among never smokers, the prevalence of COPD was 7.6% among those with arthritis compared with 1.7% among those without arthritis.

“Our findings imply that assessment of COPD and arthritis symptoms by a primary care physician might be advised for persons with arthritis or COPD,” wrote the researchers. “Health care providers may also consider referring their patients to evidence-based self-management education programs, such as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, which were developed to help people with chronic diseases such as COPD and arthritis manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.”

The researchers relied on data from more than 400,000 people aged 18 years or older in the 201 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a telephone survey conducted by state health departments in collaboration with the CDC. In 2016, the crude prevalence of COPD was 6.4% and the crude prevalence of arthritis was 25.2%.

The respondents with arthritis were more likely than those without arthritis to be women, aged 45 years or older, non-Hispanic white, and not a college graduate. They were also more likely to be retired or unable to work, to have frequent mental or physical distress, to be former or current smokers, to have shorter sleep duration, to be obese, and to have current asthma or a history of COPD.

Reference:

Liu Y, Wheaton A, Murphy, et al. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and arthritis among US adults, 2016 [published online July 18, 2019]. Prev Chronic Dis. 2019;16:190035. doi: 10.5888/pcd16.190035.