Characteristics and Outcomes of Diabetic Patients with Acute Exacerbation of COPD


North Florida


Ocala Regional Medical Center

Document Type


Publication Date



chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, diabetes mellitus, hospital length of stay, intravenous steroids, outcomes


Endocrine System Diseases | Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism | Pulmonology | Respiratory Tract Diseases


Rationale, aims, and objectives

Patients with acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD) and diabetes mellitus form a special population due to an increased risk of hyperglycemia from the use of corticosteroids. There is limited data regarding specific outcomes in diabetic patients with AECOPD.


A retrospective data analysis of adult patients admitted to North Florida Division of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA Healthcare) with a primary or secondary diagnosis of AECOPD from January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2018. We excluded patients who needed intensive care unit (ICU) care on day 0. Outcomes assessed included length of stay, mortality, and need for ICU transfer after 48 h from admission. Characteristics included age, sex, and race, comorbidities such as diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, congestive heart failure, and anemia were analyzed. Comparisons were analyzed via binary and multivariate logistic regression models.


A total of 3788 patients admitted for AECOPD were included; amongst them, 1356 patients (~36%) had diabetes mellitus. This subset of patients had higher rates of comorbidities. A significant portion of diabetic patients (72%) received intravenous rather than oral steroids, similar to non-diabetic patients. In addition, diabetic patients were more likely to develop acute kidney injury (14.2% vs 8.0%, p < 0.004) and decompensated heart failure (9.2% vs 4.6%, p < 0.001). Diabetic patients had higher length of stay and increased need for ICU transfer. However, diabetes itself did not independently affect length of stay (CI -0.028, 0.479, p = 0.081) when adjusted to comorbidities and patient’s characteristics. Moreover, diabetes was independently associated with an increased need for transfer to ICU (Odds ratio 1.9, p = 0.031). The oral route of steroid use was associated with decreased LOS (β coefficient – 0.9, p < 0.001).


Diabetes mellitus is independently associated with increased ICU transfers amongst patients hospitalized with AECOPD. The use of oral steroids rather than intravenous steroids was independently associated with decreased length of stay in diabetic and non-diabetic patients. Despite no difference in intravenous vs. oral corticosteroids demonstrated in previous COPD trials, a significant portion of diabetic patients continue to receive intravenous corticosteroids. Further investigation is required to explore these findings.

Publisher or Conference

Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Diseases