Background: There is limited information on the causes of death in asthma patients. To determine the causes of death in hospitalized asthmatic patients and to compare with those observed in COPD patients and non-respiratory individuals, with a particular interest in associations with previous cardiovascular disease.
Methods: Retrospective case–control study which analyzed the deaths of all hospitalized patients admitted for any reason during January, April, July and October of 2008 in 13 Spanish centers. Medical records of deceased patients were reviewed, and demographic and clinical ata were collected.
Results: A total of 2,826 deaths (mean age 75 years, 56% men) were included in the analysis, of which 82 (2.9%) were of patients with asthma and 283 (10%) with COPD. The most common causes of death in asthma patients were cardiovascular diseases (29.3%), malignancies (20.7%) and infections (14.6%); in COPD patients they were malignancies (26.5%), acute respiratory failure (25.8%) and cardiovascular diseases (21.6%). Asthma, compared to COPD patients, died significantly less frequently from acute respiratory failure and lung cancer. A multivariate logistic regression analysis failed to associate asthma with cardiovascular deaths.
Conclusions: Cardiovascular disease is the most frequent cause of death among hospitalized asthma patients. The specific causes of death differ between asthma and COPD patients.
Keywords: Asthma, COPD, Respiratory failure, Mortality, Cardiovascular diseases.