The contribution of occupational exposures to COPD and their interaction with cigarette smoking on clinical pattern of COPD remain underappreciated. The aim of this study was to explore the contribution of occupational exposures on clinical pattern of COPD.
Cross-sectional data from a multicenter tertiary care cohort of 591 smokers or ex-smokers with COPD (median FEV1 49%) were analyzed. Self-reported exposure to vapor, dust, gas or fumes (VDGF) at any time during the entire career was recorded.
VDGF exposure was reported in 209 (35%) subjects aged 31 to 88 years. Several features were significantly associated with VDGF exposure: age (median 68 versus 64 years, p<0.001), male gender (90% vs 76%; p<0.0001), reported work-related respiratory disability (86% vs 7%, p<0.001), current wheezing (71% vs 61%, p=0.03) and hay fever (15.5% vs 8.5%, p<0.01). In contrast, current and cumulative smoking was less (p=0.01) despite similar severity of airflow obstruction.
In this patient series of COPD patients, subjects exposed to VDGF were older male patients who reported more work-related respiratory disability, more asthma-like symptoms and atopy, suggesting that, even in smokers or ex-smokers with COPD, occupational exposures are associated with distinct patients characteristics.
Keywords: Occupational, COPD, Exposure assessment