Thorax doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2013-203996
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Original article

Thrombocytosis is associated with increased short and long term mortality after exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a role for antiplatelet therapy?

  1. Stuart Schembri1
  1. 1Tayside Respiratory Research Group, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, UK
  2. 2University of Dundee, Dundee, UK
  3. 3Perth Royal Infirmary, Perth, UK
  4. 4Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michelle Harrison, Tayside Respiratory Research Group, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY, UK; michelleharrison1{at}
  • Received 14 June 2013
  • Revised 4 March 2014
  • Accepted 26 March 2014
  • Published Online First 17 April 2014


Introduction Evidence suggests that platelets play a significant role in inflammation in addition to their role in thrombosis. Systemic inflammation is linked to poor short and long term outcomes in COPD. Increased platelet activation has been reported in acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD). We investigated whether thrombocytosis is independently associated with poor outcomes following AECOPD.

Methods An observational cohort study of patients hospitalised with AECOPD was performed. Patients were >40 years with spirometry confirmed COPD admitted between 2009 and 2011. Platelet count was recorded on admission. The primary outcome was 1-year all-cause mortality. Secondary outcomes included inhospital mortality and cardiovascular events. Analyses were conducted using logistic regression after adjustment for confounding variables.

Results 1343 patients (49% male) were included. Median age was 72 years (IQR 63–79 years). 157 (11.7%) had thrombocytosis. Thrombocytosis was associated with both 1-year mortality and inhospital mortality; OR 1.53 (95% CI 1.03 to 2.29, p=0.030) and OR 2.37 (95% CI 1.29 to 4.34, p=0.005), respectively. Cardiovascular hospitalisation was not significantly increased (OR 1.13 (95% CI 0.73 to 1.76, p=0.600)) in patients with thrombocytosis. Aspirin or clopidogrel treatment correlated with a reduction in 1-year mortality (OR 0.63 (95% CI 0.47 to 0.85, p=0.003)) but not inhospital mortality (OR 0.69 (95% CI 0.41 to 1.11, p=0.124)).

Conclusions After adjustment for confounders thrombocytosis was associated with increased 1-year mortality after exacerbation of COPD. Antiplatelet therapy was associated with significantly lower 1-year mortality and may have a protective role to play in patients with AECOPD.

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