Expatriates with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have an increased risk of suffering from comorbidities, some of which are linked to a higher mortality risk, a new study has indicated.
The research, which was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, was led by Dr Miguel Divo, Brigham and Women's Hospital's pulmonary and critical division physician and Harvard Medical School's instructor in medicine.
It involved the analysis of 1,664 COPD patients in international healthcare facilities throughout Spain and the US for a median timeframe of 51 months.
A total of 79 comorbidities were discovered in these individuals and 12 were independently associated with a significant risk of death.
The conditions linked to COPD with the highest likelihood of causing a person to die were anxiety, diabetes with neuropathy, liver cirrhosis, gastric or duodenal ulcers, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation or flutters and pulmonary fibrosis.
Furthermore, cancers of the lungs, pancreas, breasts and oesophagus were also related to COPD and an elevated chance of a person's death.
People who did not survive their ailments had a significantly higher prevalence of comorbities than those who lived through their illnesses.
However, the investigation had a number of limitations, such as that only 11 per cent of those involved in the survey were females, while other patients were omitted from the study because they were at a high risk of early death.
Dr Divo argued these "easily identifiable comorbidities" could be looked for by international healthcare providers caring for people with COPD.
"There may be effective interventions that may help decrease the risk of death," the expert added.
He claimed the findings of the research could be utilised to "help predict an increased risk of death in COPD patients in both clinical and research settings".
COPD is actually the name for a series of lung diseases, including emphysema, chronic obstructive airways disease and bronchitis.
It is usually caused by smoking and generally affects people over the age of 35.