Background: There are limited data on the epidemiology of Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections among patients with COPD, particularly in the veteran population. This study examined the prevalence, incidence, and mortality of pulmonary NTM infections among veterans with COPD population in the United States. Methods: We analyzed nationwide data from Veterans Affairs Hospitals from 2001 to 2015. First, we determined the incidence and prevalence rates and geographic distribution of NTM infections among veterans with COPD and then we evaluated the association between NTM infections with mortality among veterans with COPD. Pulmonary NTM and COPD diagnosis were defined based on charting claims for each condition on ≥ 2 occasions and ≥ 30 days apart. COPD diagnoses had to precede diagnosis of NTM. Cox Proportional-Hazards Regression was performed to determine the dependency of survival time of COPD patients with NTM. Results: The incidence and prevalence rates of NTM rose over the study period, with a sharp rise in incidence after 2012. The areas with the highest NTM period prevalence were Puerto Rico (370), followed by Florida (351) and District of Columbia (309) in 100,000 COPD population. Mortality registered for those patients with COPD Patients and NTM infection was 1.43 times higher compared to those that were uninfected. Conclusions: NTM rates have been increasing in veterans with COPD since 2012. NTM infection is associated with increased risk of mortality. This highlights the importance of identifying preventable risk factors associated with NTM infections in subjects with COPD.
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