Growing evidence supports that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and coexisting obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have poor prognosis. This association is described as overlap syndrome. Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is now the preferred treatment for OSA. We hypothesized that use of PAP therapy in elderly patients with overlap syndrome would be associated with lower healthcare utilization.
In this retrospective cohort study, we analyzed data from 5% national sample of fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with a diagnosis of COPD who were newly started on PAP therapy in 2011. We examined the effect of PAP therapy on emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalizations for all-cause and COPD-related conditions in the 1 year pre- and 1 year post-initiation of PAP therapy.
In year 2011, we identified 319 patients with overlap syndrome who were new users of PAP therapy. In this cohort of patients, hospitalization rates for COPD-related conditions were significantly lower in the 1 year post-initiation of PAP therapy compared to the 1-year pre-initiation period (19.4 vs 25.4%, P value = 0.03). However, ER visits (for any cause or COPD-related conditions) and hospitalization rates for any cause did not differ significantly in the pre- and post-initiation periods. PAP therapy was more beneficial in older adults, those with higher COPD complexity, and those with three or more comorbidities.
Initiation of PAP therapy in elderly patients with overlap syndrome is associated with a reduction in hospitalization for COPD-related conditions, but not for all-cause hospitalizations and ER visits.
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Acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Congestive heart failure
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Durable Medical Equipment
Health maintenance organization
International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision
Obstructive sleep apnea
Positive airway pressure
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The authors thank Sarah Toombs Smith, PhD, for her help with preparation of the manuscript.
This work was supported by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality [Grant R01-HS020642] and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research institute [Grant R24HS022134]. The sponsor had no role in the design or conduct of this research.
Conflict of interest
Dr. Gulshan Sharma served on the advisory board of Sunovion and Mylan Pharmaceuticals. The remaining authors have no potential conflicts of interest related to the content of manuscript.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional Review Board of University of Texas Medical Branch and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was not needed due to the nature of the study.
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Singh, G., Agarwal, A., Zhang, W. et al. Impact of PAP therapy on hospitalization rates in Medicare beneficiaries with COPD and coexisting OSA. Sleep Breath 23, 193–200 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11325-018-1680-0
- Overlap syndrome
- Hospitalization and healthcare utilization