Decrease in exacerbations during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic in a cohort of veterans with COPD

Christian Trujillo, Brian Garnet, Ali Vaeli Zadeh, Gisel Urdaneta, Michael Campos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Studies have shown a decline in hospitalizations due to acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the impact of the pandemic on AECOPDs of all severities in longitudinal cohorts of patients is lacking. Methods: We conducted analysis of 123 individuals with COPD who have been followed since 2017. AECOPDs of mild (treatment at home), moderate (emergency department or urgent visit evaluation), and severe (hospitalization) type were assessed by chart review and patient interview. Compliance with preventive measures to avoid COVID-19 infection was assessed in 2020. Differences between the rate of AECOPD by year was analyzed as well as differences in preventive measures by COPD disease severity. Results: During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there was a significant reduction in AECOPDs in our cohort with 26 participants (21%) having an exacerbation compared to 46 (37%) in 2019, 52 (42%) in 2018, and 44 (36%) in 2017. Mean exacerbation rates decreased 54% overall and 74% in frequent exacerbators compared with the prior 3-year average. The decrease was noted in AECOPDs of all severities. Overall, there was a high rate of reported compliance with social distancing and face mask use that was significantly higher in the group with more severe COPD based on symptoms and forced expiratory volume in 1 second. Conclusions: Individuals with COPD, including frequent exacerbators, showed a marked decrease in AECOPD during the COVID-19 pandemic and high adherence to recommended preventive measures. Evaluation of the impact of preventive strategies on AECOPD in a non-pandemic setting may be of value and requires further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-579
Number of pages8
JournalChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • COPD
  • COVID-19
  • Exacerbations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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