Infection. 2022 Jan 29. doi: 10.1007/s15010-021-01743-1. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: COPD has large impact on patient morbidity and mortality worldwide. Acute exacerbations (AECOPD) are mostly triggered by respiratory infections including influenza. While corticosteroids are strongly recommended in AECOPD, they are potentially harmful during influenza. We aimed to evaluate if steroid treatment for AECOPD due to influenza may worsen outcomes.
METHODS: A retrospective analysis of a Swiss nation-wide hospitalization database was conducted identifying all AECOPD hospitalisations between 2012 and 2017. In separate analyses, outcomes concerning length-of-stay (LOS), in-hospital mortality, rehospitalisation rate, empyema and aspergillosis were compared between AECOPD during and outside influenza season; AECOPD with and without laboratory-confirmed influenza; and AECOPD plus pneumonia with and without laboratory-confirmed influenza.
RESULTS: Patients hospitalized for AECOPD during influenza season showed shorter LOS (11.3 vs. 11.6 day, p < 0.001) but higher rehospitalisation rates (33 vs 31%, p < 0.001) compared to those hospitalized outside influenza season. Patients with confirmed influenza infection had lower in-hospital mortality (3.3 vs. 5.5%, p = 0.010) and rehospitalisation rates (29 vs. 37%, p < 0.001) than those without confirmed influenza.
CONCLUSION: Using different indicators for influenza as the likely cause of AECOPD, we found no consistent evidence of worse outcomes of AECOPD due to influenza for hospitalized patients. Assuming that most of these patients received corticosteroids, as it is accepted standard of care in Switzerland, this study gives no evidence to change the current practice of using corticosteroids for hospitalized AECOPD independent of the influenza status.