Acute exacerbations negatively impact quality of life in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but the impact of hospitalized exacerbations on quality of life is not clear. We hypothesized that patients with hospitalized exacerbations would benefit from hospitalization and experience improvement in general and disease-specific quality of life (as measured by the St. George’s respiratory questionnaire (SGRQ) and the medical outcomes study 36-item short form health survey (SF-36)) compared to those without exacerbations, or with non-hospitalized acute exacerbations.
1219 COPD patients enrolled in either the simvastatin for the prevention of exacerbations in moderate-to severe COPD Trial (STATCOPE) or azithromycin for prevention of exacerbations of COPD trial (MACRO) were analyzed. Demographic information, spirometry, and symptom scores were noted at baseline. Exacerbation events and changes in quality of life scores were assessed over a mean of 538 days of follow-up.
Of patients studied, 25.6% were hospitalized, 44.0% had at least one outpatient exacerbation, and 30.4% had no exacerbation. Baseline SGRQ and SF-36 scores were severely impaired in all groups studied. Over time, SF-36 scores did not change significantly between groups. SGRQ symptom domain scores improved in other groups but did not improve in those hospitalized for a COPD exacerbation.
At baseline, patients hospitalized for acute exacerbations of COPD had more impaired quality of life scores. Over time, SGRQ symptom domain scores improved in other groups but did not in those who were hospitalized. Other measurements of quality of life were not improved by hospitalization for COPD.

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